Minnesota-run medical device maker Medtronic PLC got its groove back Tuesday, as strong quarterly sales of heart devices and surgical supplies combined with business efficiencies to reinforce projections for double-digit earnings growth.
Tuesday saw Medtronic's stock price complete a three-month U-turn following a disappointing earnings session last fall. The stock closed up 2.1 percent Tuesday, ending at $80.56 after not closing above $80 since Nov. 21. Several analysts downgraded Medtronic in January, and several weeks later a rumor circulated that Medtronic was working on a major asset sale.
Medtronic executives on Tuesday declined to comment on a Jan. 31 report from Bloomberg News that said Medtronic was working with advisers to try to sell many low-tech medical supply products it acquired from Covidien PLC just over two years ago.
The Bloomberg report said Medtronic could stand to get as much as $5 billion for its product lines in everything from needles to medical instruments.
"I'm not going to speculate on the future of specific products and businesses," Medtronic Chief Executive Omar Ishrak told investors Tuesday when asked about the sale rumors. Ishrak noted, however, that "good portfolio management" requires asking several questions — What value does a product add to Medtronic? What value does Medtronic bring to the product line? And is the business well-funded?
"We look at these questions across all our portfolio and we will take action both in terms of divestitures and acquisitions on that basis," Ishrak said.
Overall, Medtronic's revenue grew about 5 percent during the three months ended Jan. 27 compared to the same period last year.
Strong sales propelled Medtronic's adjusted income up 3.3 percent to $1.5 billion, on total sales of $7.28 billion during the quarter.
All four of Medtronic's major divisions posted sales increases in the quarter, including the minimally invasive therapies group (MITG) that houses many of the Covidien medical supplies that would go under the rumored deal. MITG sales climbed 5 percent to $2.42 billion in the period.
Meanwhile, sales of devices like pacemakers and stents in Medtronic's cardiac and vascular group — the company's largest sales group — grew 5 percent, to $2.55 billion in the quarter.
"We expect that momentum to continue in terms of product launches in Q4 and to have a good pipeline into next year," Ishrak said Tuesday morning in response to an analyst's question. He highlighted the larger-sized CoreValve transcatheter aortic heart valve and the leadless Micra pacemaker as examples of promising products.
Medtronic's adjusted earnings in the just-completed quarter were $1.12 per share, a penny above Wall Street analysts' consensus expectations. The result was also 6 cents above the EPS for the same quarter last year.
For the fiscal year that will end in April, Medtronic reaffirmed guidance Tuesday of mid-single-digit revenue growth, on a constant currency basis, and double-digit adjusted EPS growth. The company now projects the strong dollar will shave 20 cents per share from its worldwide earnings, implying fiscal 2017 earnings per share in the range of $4.55 to $4.60.
Ishrak said much of the spread between projected revenue growth and earnings growth would come from continuing improvements in operating efficiencies, including the ongoing project to reduce manufacturing plants worldwide from over 100 to between 50 and 60, following Medtronic's $50 billion acquisition of surgical supplier Covidien in 2015.
"We remain confident in our ability to deliver mid single-digit constant currency revenue growth and double-digit constant currency EPS growth, not only in our current fiscal year but also into the future," Ishrak said in prepared remarks on the conference call.
Analysts Leerink Partners said Tuesday's results did seem to speak to the benefits of Medtronic's diversified product portfolio, despite some "headwinds" that could make meeting sales targets challenging in coming months.
"This quarter, MDT delivered a solid sales and EPS beat — encouraging after what was a disappointing F2Q17 miss," Leerink's note to investors said.