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Waters Runs Lower

Waters (WAT - Get Report) ran lower Tuesday after the analytical instrument company slashed first-quarter sales guidance.

The Milford, Mass., maker of liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis gear said sales will rise just 3%-4% from a year ago in its first quarter, well short of the company's 13% target. Waters also guided toward first-quarter earnings of 34 cents to 37 cents a share, down from the previous 44-cent projection.

The company emphasized the effect of a quarterly decline in Europe but said sales were weak elsewhere too.

"The preliminary results of our analysis point toward a combination of order delays at our large pharmaceutical accounts and a more general weakening of our industrial-based businesses," CEO Douglas A. Berthiaume said. "Geographically, Europe appears to be the hardest hit and sales growth in our developing Asian markets, India and China, has lost some momentum when compared to the high growth rates that we experienced through 2004."

The company said it would provide a further update April 26. In after-hours action Tuesday, the stock slipped $1.97 to $44.29.

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