Upbeat Outlook At Pittcon | March 21, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 12 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 12 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: March 21, 2011

Upbeat Outlook At Pittcon

Instrumentation: Firms expand offerings as consolidation trend continues
Department: Business
News Channels: Analytical SCENE
Keywords: Pittcon, instrumentation, consolidation
More than 16,000 people attended the Pittcon exhibition and conference.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
More than 16,000 people attended the Pittcon exhibition and conference.
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

Scientific instrument makers at the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry & Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) in Atlanta said the economic recovery has revived buyer interest. Business conditions, they said, are much stronger than they were a year ago, when the economy was just beginning to improve.

Some big instrument makers, including Thermo Fisher Scientific and Agilent, vowed to continue making acquisitions to broaden their product lines. Others, such as Waters and Shimadzu, indicated their intent to remain independent and reliant largely on homegrown advances.

“The market is much better today than it was a year ago, when people worried about the fragility of the recovery,” said Michael R. McMullen, president of Agilent’s chemical analysis group. Nick Roelofs, president of Agilent’s life sciences group, added that acquisitions will remain part of the firm’s growth strategy. He pointed to the 2010 acquisition of Varian, which brought nuclear magnetic resonance instruments to the firm’s product line, and to this month’s Biocius and Lab 901 purchases, which expanded Agilent’s high-throughput spectroscopy and electrophoresis offerings.

Thermo Fisher Scientific CEO Marc N. Casper noted that his firm is “investing to increase the depth of our capabilities.” He cited recent acquisitions, such as reagent supplier Finnzymes and handheld detector maker Ahura Scientific, and noted that the planned $2.1 billion acquisition of ion chromatography expert Dio­nex should close in the second quarter. Thermo Fisher is waiting for European regulators to clear the purchase.

Chromatography leader Waters said technology advances are more important than acquisitions. The firm’s last major acquisition was the 2009 purchase of supercritical fluid chromatography specialist Thar Instruments. Waters used Pittcon this year to showcase the first Thar instrument—a sub-2-μm-particle ultra-performance chromatograph—to be sold under the Waters name.

Instrument makers Agilent and Shimadzu said their Japanese employees are safe and facilities are intact after the earthquake and tsunami. But Japanese instrument maker Jeol suffered some damage to its factories in the north of the country, said J. Douglas Meinhart, analytical instruments vice president.

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