Icon delivered another quarter of strong growth in the three months ended 31 December 2012, with operating income more than three times that in the fourth quarter of 2011 and net revenues ahead by 24% year on year.

With full-year revenues growing 18% to $1.12 billion and operating income more than doubled year on year to US$68.0 million, the Ireland-based provider of outsourced development services said its performance in 2012 was “the validation of our investment strategy”.

Icon also raised its guidance for revenues and profits in 2013 to reflect its recent acquisition of a clinical-trial services business from US staffing specialist Cross Country Healthcare.

Backlog was up by 20% to US$2.8 billion in 2012. Along with continuing investment in drug-development capabilities, talent and innovation, this “provides a solid foundation for further growth in 2013”, commented chief executive officer Ciaran Murray.

Service revenues

Net service revenues for the fourth quarter of 2012 came in at US$300.2 million, 23.7% more than in the same period of 2011.

Operating income was US$24.4 million compared with US$6.65 million in the year-before quarter, while diluted earnings per share (EPS) improved from US$0.07 to US$0.34 in the latest reporting period.

Net new business awards for the fourth quarter of 2012 were worth US$378 million, giving a book to bill ratio of 1.26.

Full-year results

For the whole of 2012, Icon’s net service revenues grew by 17.9% to US$1.12 million, generating operating income of US$68.0 million against income of US$29.4 million in 2011.

Operating income for 2012 and 2011 included restructuring and other non-recurring charges of US$5.64 million and US$9.82 million respectively. Diluted EPS were US$0.92 last year and US$0.37 in 2011.

Net new business awards for the whole of 2012 came to US$1.6 billion, representing a book-to-bill ratio of 1.4.

Icon completed its acquisition of Cross Country Healthcare’s Clinical Trial Services Division on 15 February. The company is now projecting full-year revenues in the range of US$1,258 million to US$1,292 million for 2013, and EPS of US$1.44 to US$1.60.