Minnesota-run medical device maker Medtronic put up record revenue last year of nearly $30 billion, representing 3 percent growth. But when the company announced expectations Thursday for 4 to 5 percent growth in the coming year, stock analysts wanted to know why the figures weren’t a bit higher.
“Look, we just wanted to provide a slightly tighter range than a generic ‘mid-single digit’ range,” Medtronic Chief Executive Omar Ishrak told analysts Thursday. “There is some level of uncertainty in marketplaces always. So, we just wanted to make sure that we again can hit the guidance that we put out there. I think the trend that we have right now, the new products, would suggest that we should be able to deliver within that range.”
“We are focused on delivering consistent, reliable growth,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill quickly added.
Medtronic stock ended the day up 1 percent, at $85.58 a share.
Parkhill also addressed a question about why earnings-per-share growth was projected between 9 and 10 percent for the coming fiscal year — why wasn’t that higher, putting it closer to the company’s long-range growth estimates? Parkhill noted that a temporary increase in debt combined with a planned increase in sales and administrative spending related to new products pushed the low end of the EPS-growth range into the single-digit territory.
“We are inclined to believe management is trying to reflect some level of conservatism, particularly given upcoming/ongoing headwinds in key businesses,” analysts with Leerink Partners wrote Thursday morning.
Still, Leerink estimates the broader med-tech market is growing about 5 percent a year, and Medtronic should be well-positioned to accelerate its own growth in fiscal 2018 if it can successfully launch its pipeline of new products — which is what Ishrak said Medtronic plans to do, particularly with new stents, heart valves and insulin pumps.
Joanne Wuensch, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, estimated in an investors’ note that Medtronic’s earnings per share will be stronger in the second half of the fiscal year, which will run from November through April 2018.
After missing one earnings target last fall, Medtronic has gone on to deliver better-than-expected results for two consecutive quarters and “providing what we view as reasonable guidance” for fiscal 2018, Wuensch wrote.
The guidance does not include the impact of a proposed $6.1 billion sale of assets expected later this year. Under the deal, patient care, deep-vein thrombosis and nutritional insufficiency products would be sold by Dublin, Ireland-based Medtronic to Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health. Ishrak said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission cleared the sale last week.
Looking at the just-completed quarter, revenue for the three-month period ended April 28 topped $7.9 billion, up 4.6 percent compared to the same quarter last year and above analysts’ estimates or $7.86 billion. Net income rose 5.3 percent to $1.16 billion. Adjusted net income of $1.33 a share beat estimates by 2 cents.
The minimally invasive therapies group of surgical supplies had the fastest growth.