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PerkinElmer profit tops estimates on strong newborn screening

(Adds CEO interview, sales details)

By Bill Berkrot and Natalie Grover

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Scientific instruments maker PerkinElmer Inc on Thursday reported better-than-expected fourth quarter revenue and profit, helped by strong demand for its newborn screening tests in developing markets.

The company forecast 2015 adjusted earnings of $2.58 to 2.64 per share, assuming the stronger U.S. dollar will reduce profit by about 15 cents. Analysts' estimates are already at the high end of the range at $2.64 per share.

PerkinElmer, which also sells environmental and food safety testing equipment, gets more than half of its revenue from sales outside the United States, including some 25 percent from Europe, where the euro has been particularly weak versus the dollar. Overseas sales in euros and other currencies are reduced when converted back into U.S. dollars.

Chief Executive Robert Friel said business in China was growing in the high single digits, buoyed by neonatal testing.

"It's down from where it was in 2013, but still growing at a nice clip," he said in a telephone interview.

Early 2015 business regionally was tracking similar to what the company saw in the fourth quarter of 2014, Friel said.

"The U.S, North America is strong, Europe is stable and China is improving slightly," he said.

Excluding items, PerkinElmer said it had adjusted profit of 85 cents per share, topping analysts' average expectations by 7 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue of $608.6 million edged past Wall Street estimates of $600.5 million.

PerkinElmer's net profit from continuing operations fell to $31.3 million, or 28 cents per share, from $73.5 million, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier, as the company took a 43 cents a share hit due to a recalculation of its pension liability.

Sales from the human health division, which includes newborn diagnostics, grew 3 percent in the quarter to $336.2 million. Environmental health sales rose 7 percent to $272.2 million.

The Massachusetts-based company's shares closed up nearly 1 percent at $44.86 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

(Editing by Savio D'Souza)