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Thermo Fisher's profit easily tops Street expectations

Jan 31 (Reuters) - Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc, the world's largest maker of scientific instruments, on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter profit that sailed past Wall Street expectations as all four business units recorded double-digit sales growth.

The company said net profit fell to $528 million, or $1.30 per share, from a profit of $630 million, or $1.59 per share, a year ago, due to a $204 million charge related to U.S. tax reform.

Excluding items, it earned $2.79 per share. Analysts on average expected $2.66 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue for the quarter rose 22 percent to $6.05 billion, exceeding Wall Street estimates of $5.7 billion.

Thermo Fisher also said it will spend $34 million on one-time $500 bonuses for each of its 68,000 eligible non-executive employees and another $16 million for philanthropic activities and to accelerate key research and development programs.

The combined $50 million comes from a benefit the company realized as a result of U.S. tax reform.

It also increased its quarterly dividend to 17 cents per share from 15 cents.

Thermo Fisher said it would provide a 2018 earnings forecast on a conference call later on Wednesday. Analysts are estimating 2018 earnings of $10.63 per share and revenue of $23 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Supriya Kurane)