Medical Technology

Tactile Systems continues on brisk pace

The stock of Tactile Systems Technology, the northeast Minneapolis medical-device manufacturer that is the state’s best-performing stock since it went public last year, hit new highs this week amid strong first-half earnings and an upbeat management report.

Tactile on Tuesday led all Minnesota public companies as it rose 12 percent to a $33.33 per share close, following the earnings release late Monday.

“The growth in sales of our Flexitouch Systems during the first six months … was driven by a continuation of the longer-term growth tailwinds in our business,” Tactile CEO Gerald Mattys told investors in a conference call Tuesday. “These tailwinds ... represent the primary drivers of our growth in 2017.

“We’ve made considerable investments to expand our sales and reimbursement teams by bringing on a number of new resources. Specifically, over the last two years, our selling organizations expanded to more than 145 representatives as of June 30 from 66 representatives at the beginning of 2015. Second, we’ve focused on maximizing the productivity of our selling representatives by providing them with the resources that they need to be successful.”

Twelve-year-old Tactile Medical went public at $10 per share in August to raise capital and visibility. The stock, which topped $33.60 per share at one point in Wednesday trading before retreating later in the week, is valued at about $565 million.

Last September, the Food and Drug Administration cleared Tactile to use the at-home treatment for lymphedema swelling in the head and neck, as well as for swollen limbs, from the excess fluid buildup that often results from cancer treatment. Flexitouch has been recognized by independent analysts as an economical way to treat lymphedema with a system that costs about $5,000 instead of repeated clinic visits and open-ended hospital stays.

Mattys said sales rose to Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals as well as through commercial insurers thanks to long-term investments Tactile has made in the product and with public and private insurers.

Neal St. Anthony

U.S. Economy

Kocherlakota: A decade later, less potential

Narayana Kocherlakota, who led the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank during much of the recovery from the financial crisis, had a provocative new take on it last week. In a column for Bloomberg View, Kocherlakota wrote it’s possible to say that, in some ways, the recession-inducing crisis that began a decade ago this month was worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

He used several points of data to make his case. Most strikingly, per-person economic output in the U.S. has risen only 6 percent since 2007, adjusted for inflation. A typical decade sees a 20 percent jump in that figure.

Kocherlakota, now an economist at the University of Rochester in New York, also pointed out that household income is lower than a decade ago and that even threshold income for the wealthiest 1 percent is lower than in 2007.

And in contrast to 1939, when the U.S. had room to grow, today’s Fed policymakers see less economic potential. “They view the damage done by the crisis as being permanent,” he said.

Evan Ramstad

development

Thor project exceeds minority jobs goal

Thor Cos., Minnesota’s largest minority-owned business, also is a construction contractor at work on its $36 million, 90,000-square-foot office-retail headquarters complex in north Minneapolis that is scheduled to open in February.

The 35-year-old company also has exceeded its goal of a 40 percent minority workforce rate on the project.

“As optimistic as we were about meeting our own aggressive goal, the actual numbers prove that we maximize participation instead of just trying to meet a goal,” said CEO Ravi Norman. “We now believe we can do even better, moving forward in terms of minority hiring and business contractors.”

The workforce includes members of ethnic groups, women, military veterans and those who have disabilities.

The Thor project at Plymouth and Penn avenues is the first major commercial construction project on the Minneapolis north side in decades.

Thor will relocate its development, design and construction business of about 250 employees from Fridley to the north side that boasts the highest unemployment, minority population and poverty rate in town.

The Thor project is part of $100-million effort at the four-corner intersection, including an expanded Northpoint Health and Wellness, the medial-and-social services nonprofit; a new Estes Funeral Chapel across Plymouth and a parking ramp.

Thor and its government and commercial partners have been soliciting neighborhood residents of the north side and adjacent Brooklyn Center for employment opportunities, as well as working with workforce-development trainers such as Summit Academy and Minneapolis Urban League.

Neal St. Anthony