How would you spend $9.3 billion?
Executives at medical device maker Medtronic PLC are facing that question, and they plan to announce their answer soon. On Wednesday chief executive Omar Ishrak said some combination of stock buybacks and accelerated debt retirements is the likely answer, though it will be done in a way that preserves financial flexibility for acquisitions and investments in the company.
The money was freed up following Medtronic’s January move to Ireland, and an internal restructuring last September that allowed cash and securities previously held offshore to be used for general corporate purposes.
“This just gives us financial flexibility,” Ishrak said in an interview. “We’ll have to look at future deployment of that in some way, and immediate deployment as well. … Financial flexibility simply means we can keep the money to do what we need to do, including acquisitions, as well as more direct returns to shareholders.”
Medtronic has averaged one acquisition per month since it bought Covidien PLC for $49.9 billion in January, and company executives said they will continue to eye acquisition targets. But paying shareholders, and repaying bond holders, will be major components of the spending plan.
Medtronic’s stock price increased nearly 1 percent Wednesday as the broader S&P 500 sank 1.4 percent.
In its earnings report for the three months ended in October, the company said strong sales of heart devices led to its 3-cent earnings beat. The company had adjusted diluted earnings per share of $1.03, 3 cents better than the consensus forecast of $1 reported by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue for the quarter ended Oct. 30 was $7.058 billion, which rounds up to meet consensus estimates. Medtronic said its diluted adjusted earnings per share increased 1 percent compared to the same quarter last year, though comparing results with prior periods is messy.
Comparing current results to last year required Medtronic to estimate what Covidien’s earnings would have been if the company was on Medtronic’s unusual fiscal calendar. The one-time internal restructuring that produced the $9.3 billion in freed-up corporate cash also triggered a one-time “tax adjustment” of about $500 million. Finally, company officials estimate that the just-ended quarter would have had $452 million more revenue if not for negative foreign currency impacts.
Removing the effects of those factors and including year-ago Covidien figures, Medtronic said its overall revenue increased 6 percent compared to the same quarter last year. Revenue from its cardiac and vascular group, which sells everything from pacemakers to medical balloons, increased 8 percent.
The company also updated its full-year outlook. It now expects to hit the upper half of its projection of mid-single digit percent revenue growth for the second half of the year. For the full year, the company is now projecting adjusted diluted earnings per share in the range of $4.33 to $4.40, compared to the range of $4.30 to $4.40 previously announced.