Strong sales of next-generation insulin pumps for diabetes helped Medtronic PLC surpass investors’ expectations for its latest quarterly results, sending the company’s stock up 2 percent Thursday.
The Minnesota-run medical device maker’s profit rose nearly 6 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter, beating the consensus forecast of Wall Street analysts by 3 cents per share.
Executives also delivered an upbeat outlook, predicting more than 8 percent earnings growth in the coming fiscal year.
“Looking ahead, we feel good about the growth opportunities in our markets and our competitive position in these markets. We expect continued revenue growth and margin expansion,” CEO Omar Ishrak said in a statement.
Executives disclosed that the company recently paid $1.1 billion to the Internal Revenue Service toward an expected resolution of a long-running dispute involving products made in Puerto Rico. Although the resolution is not yet final, Medtronic made the prepayment to eliminate what it called “uncertainty” in its cash flow.
Uncertainty has beset the company over the past 12 months: Hurricanes battered its key production plants in Puerto Rico, wildfires affected operations in California and a worldwide internal computer crash disrupted sales around the globe for about a week. Although net income and revenue both climbed during the past year, operating profit was flat at $8.35 billion for the 12 months ended April 27.
In comments to stock analysts Thursday morning, Ishrak stressed the importance of solid execution in Medtronic’s business plans, which has helped the company produce two consecutive quarters of 6 percent organic revenue growth following the turbulence earlier in the year. “Across Medtronic, execution is our top priority,” Ishrak said in the conference call. “We know there is much work to be done, but we are excited and optimistic as our dedication is clear, our pipeline is full and our team has never been stronger.”
Former JPMorgan stock analyst Mike Weinstein, who traditionally was called on to ask the first analyst question during earnings calls in the past, made his debut as a Medtronic executive on the earnings call Thursday. Weinstein noted that the company had just finished “a great quarter” but said there was a lot of work to do. “We are not going to let one or two good quarters go to our heads,” he said.
Medtronic, operated from headquarters in Fridley, reported adjusted net income of $1.9 billion on $8.1 billion in revenue in the three months ended April 27. The diluted earnings per share amounted to $1.42, up 9 cents from a year ago. Sales rose at least 5 percent in each of the company’s four product groups, after adjusting for divestitures.
Sales in the diabetes group jumped 21 percent, with revenue of $645 million, as the user base for the innovative MiniMed 670G insulin pump grew to 70,000 active users, Ishrak said. The 670G is the only pump on that market designed to take near-real-time readings from a Medtronic glucose sensor and automatically adjust the small continuous “basal” doses of insulin that the pump delivers without needing user input, including during overnight hours.
Although the 670G is a novel product, sales of the unit were not been as robust as they could have been because of a supply problem involving sensor components. With those capacity constraints now behind, sales quickly climbed, Edward Jones analyst John Boylan said. “They couldn’t keep up with demand. But those issues seem to be overcome, which we think led to the strong sales this quarter,” Boylan said. “We think it bodes well for the future. We think the product is a quite innovative product, and demand is increasing because it is novel.”
Medtronic’s 2018 full fiscal year also ended April 27. For the year, Medtronic recorded net income of $6.5 billion on $30 billion in revenue. The net income grew 2 percent, though revenue climbed less than 1 percent.
For the fiscal year that started on April 28, Medtronic projects revenue to grow between 4 percent and 4.5 percent, meeting Wall Street’s previously announced expectation for 4.4 percent growth. Earnings for the year are projected to reach up to $5.15 a share, in line with Wall Street estimates, while operating margin is expected to grow less than a percentage point from the 27.9 percent operating margin seen in fiscal 2018.
Regarding the sales guidance, “we think this guidance range falls right in line with investor expectations and will be viewed as ‘good enough,’ ” analysts with Leerink Partners wrote in a note to investors. “We think this guidance is reasonable and achievable given what we continue to believe could be some headwinds the company faces from a competitive perspective over the next 12 months.”