If you have not spent much time in a science lab, odds are you have not heard of Waters Corporation, a leader player in the Life Science Tools Industry. But thanks to Stonehill Alum Gene Cassis, the Stonehill FMA had the opportunity to bring interested members to visit the company on October 9. Mr. Cassis is Vice President of Worldwide Business Development and Investor Relations for Waters Corp and a former chemistry major while here at the College.
Given the company’s track record, Waters is a well-managed organization posting consistent growth, improving profitability, strong cash flows and excellent returns to its shareholders for more than a decade. It maintains a strong competitive advantage from a wide moat around its life science tool product line in Liquid Chromatography and Mass Spec systems used in the chemical analysis of drugs and other consumer products. Growth has slowed a bit in 2012 in part due to currency translation, and tighter commercial budgets overseas, and the end of a significant investment cycle in the US spurred by excess government spending to jump start the US economy. Management appears optimistic in a rebound in growth in 2013 and beyond.
Students attending the visit got a run down on the company by Gene Cassis and also Michael Silverira, Controller and Head of Corporate Finance for Waters. Mr. Silverira discussed accounting procedures in a manufacturing environment and factors the company considers in making acquisitions in a high tech field. The presentations were followed up by a company tour. The company’s operation in Massachusetts is mostly involved in the manufacture and testing of custom products. Its operation in Singapore serves its customers in the far east where the company enjoys a zero corporate tax rate while its European customers are addressed from an operation in Ireland where corporate taxes are just 9%. From a net profitability stand point, this gives Waters a large competitive advantage and provides attractive cash flow generation to its shareholders. Members found the manufacturing process to be very interesting. Overall the afternoon was extremely informative and we greatly appreciate the opportunity presented by Mr. Cassis and his colleagues.