Medtronic hired one of Wall Street’s best-known medical-technology stock analysts on Monday, with the goal of translating revenue growth into better stock performance. The stock price climbed nearly 5 percent on the news.
In a conference call with investors Monday morning, former JPMorgan Chase analyst Michael Weinstein said he has accepted a job as senior vice president of strategy at Medtronic, reporting to Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill. Weinstein is already deeply familiar with the complicated industry, having served as JPMorgan’s senior analyst covering med-tech companies including Medtronic, since 1995.
“We’re very excited to welcome Mike Weinstein. I couldn’t be more pleased that he decided to join our company,” said Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak, who has often answered questions from Weinstein on earnings calls. “He will bring a new perspective that we know will enhance our growth strategies.”
Medtronic stock rose 4.6 percent Monday, closing at $84.82 on a day when the S&P 500 stock index was flat.
Analysts said the magnitude of Medtronic’s stock bump Monday could be a reflection of some market frustration with Medtronic.
Medtronic’s revenue growth has met Wall Street expectations since acquiring Covidien for $50 billion three years ago, but that has not translated into bottom-line growth that investors wanted to see.
During 2017, Medtronic’s stock price rose about 14 percent — trailing other large medical-supply peers, like Baxter (up 45 percent in 2017), BD (up 30 percent) and Abbott (up 46 percent). The S&P 500 index itself rose more than 18 percent last year.
“They’ve definitely underperformed over the past couple of years, relative to their peers,” said Raj Denhoy, an analyst who covers Medtronic for Jefferies Group.
Medtronic’s decision to have a conference call to announce Weinstein’s hiring Monday shows how seriously the company takes the idea of needing to improve shareholder value. “It seems to be a high priority for the company,” Denhoy said.
In a phone interview, CFO Parkhill — whose second anniversary with Medtronic is this month — acknowledged that there has been room for improvement in Medtronic’s bottom line since the Covidien deal.
“We have consistently, on an annual basis, grown our top-line revenue in the mid-single-digit [percent] range since we acquired Covidien. For a company our size to be growing in that range each year is a good thing,” she said. But “our bottom line has grown but not grown as robustly as we would like.”
Weinstein has opted to be paid primarily in stock, which means his personal financial interests will be closely aligned with stockholders’.
He didn’t offer any specific pearls of wisdom to the investing public on Monday, as Medtronic is still in its “quiet period” ahead of a fourth-quarter earnings announcement later this month. However, he and Parkhill noted that the timing of Weinstein’s hiring means that he will be able to contribute to important strategic decisions and long-term planning ahead of Medtronic’s annual investors meeting on June 5.
Weinstein, who was repeatedly ranked as the top med-tech analyst in annual industry surveys, announced his retirement from JPMorgan on March 25.
At the time, he said he would take some time off and maybe consider serving on a corporate board. But he had several dinner meetings with Ishrak and Parkhill since then, and what he learned made him decide to take on a key role at one of the biggest health care companies anywhere.
“After all the time I’ve spent with Omar and the team, my confidence in Medtronic’s outlook is only enhanced,” Weinstein told investors, who had become his audience instead of his peers, on Monday. “Otherwise, I would be on a beach and we wouldn’t be having this call.”