ICON has revised upwards its guidance for revenues and earnings per share (EPS) in 2014, to reflect the recent acquisition of Aptiv Solutions as well as continuing margin improvement on the back of a 10% increase in revenues for the first quarter.

The updated guidance for 2014 anticipates a revenue range of US$1,480 million to US$1,540 million for the full year, compared with ICON’s previous forecast of US$1,415 million to US$1,465 million.

EPS for the whole of 2014 are now expected to be US$2.30-US$2.40, up from the previous guidance of US$2.05-US$2.20.

Ciaran Murray, chief executive officer of ICON, the global provider of outsourced development services based in Ireland, said the more bullish guidance was down to the acquisition of Aptiv Solutions announced at the end of March, and to “our continuing margin progression”.

ICON paid US$143.5 million in cash for Aptiv Solutions, a US-based supplier of biopharmaceutical and medical-device development services that specialises in adaptive trials.

12.3% margin

Operating margins reached 12.3% in the first quarter of 2014, compared with 8.7% in the same period of 2013.

ICON’s net revenues for the three months ended 31 March 2014 were US$349.6 million, up by 10.4% year on year.

Operating income, excluding restructuring and other items, was 56.9% higher at $43.0 million.

Net income, excluding restructuring and other items, came to US $36.2 million or 57 cents per diluted share for the first quarter of 2014.

In the same quarter last year, net income on a comparable basis was US$22.2 million and diluted EPS were US$0.36.

Business wins

ICON recorded gross business wins of US$494 million in the latest quarter, up from US$481 million in Q1 2013. The gross book-to-bill ratio for the three months to 31 March was 1.41.

Net business wins were $427 million versus US$422 million for Q1 2013. The net book-to-bill ratio in the latest quarter was 1.22 against 1.33 in the year-before period. 

According to Murray, ICON has “made an encouraging start to 2014”, while the US$427 million in net new business for the first quarter “gives us a solid foundation upon which to build during the remainder of 2014”.