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Waters Corp. surges on earnings report.

Waters Corp. (WAT - Get Report)  -- a company that makes special measuring tools for health care scientists and others  -- shares rose 12.7% to close at $229.51 on Wednesday, Jan. 23, following its quarterly and annual earnings report, and a plan to buy back $4 billion in stock over two years.

The Massachusetts-based company posted adjusted fourth quarter earnings per share of $2.87, a 14% rise from the same time a year ago when non-recurring items were excluded, beating expectations.

Fourth quarter diluted earnings per share, when taking into account non-recurring items, rose to $2.46, compared to a $4.44 loss per share in the fourth quarter of 2017 that included a $550 million income tax charge.

Sales also grew by about 4% to $715 million, thanks to expanding business in China and better U.S. sales, despite a dip in European business and a drag from foreign currency exchanges.

For the total of 2018, Waters' posted adjusted earnings per share of $8.29, up 11% from 2017. Sales were also up, reaching $2.4 billion -- a 5% jump from 2017.

"We were pleased to end 2018 on a high note," said Chris O'Connell, Waters' chief executive, in a statement. 

The strong fourth quarter results, said O'Connell, were thanks mainly to a rise in demand in pharmaceutical related products, which saw a 6% uptick in sales, and growing business in China. Sales to Asia rose 8% during the quarter, and by a similar rate for the entire year.

During 2018, sales to governmental and academic markets also grew by about 8%.

"We are looking forward to building on this momentum in 2019," he said. 

For 2019, Waters expects full-year adjusted earnings per share of $9.20 to $9.45.