Medtronic Muddles Through

The results weren't spectacular, but Medtronic (NYSE: MDT  ) took care of business in its fiscal first quarter.

Revenue was up 19% year over year for the quarter ended July 25, thanks largely to currency changes that increased growth outside the U.S. Excluding that benefit, sales still rose more than 13%.

New product sales were the other major contributor to Medtronic's year-over-year revenue increase. The company's spinal business rose 33%, but much of that was due to products added from its acquisition of Kyphon. Organic growth of its spinal products climbed just 8%. We won't start seeing year-over-year comparables including Kyphon until Q3.

The other major addition was U.S. sales of Medtronic's new drug-eluting stent, Endeavor. The company claims to have 19% of the U.S. market -- slightly below the 20% it exited last quarter with. Starting this quarter, Medtronic will also be competing against Abbott Labs' (NYSE: ABT  ) new drug-eluting stent, Xience V. Management thinks it'll only give up a "point or two" of market share, but that sounds a little optimistic to me. Since Medtronic was able to take a fifth of the market relatively quickly from entrenched leaders Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX  ) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) , I have a feeling that the same doctors who gave its stents a chance will be just as interested in trying out Abbott's products.

Medtronic's largest business segment -- cardiac rhythm disease management, which sells defibrillators and pacemakers -- grew revenue at a not-quite-6% pace year over year. This segment will have to pick up the pace against Boston Scientific and St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ  ) ; right now, it's dragging down the company's overall growth.

Non-GAAP earnings per share increased 16% after subtracting charges for restructuring and a patent cross-licensing agreement with NeuroPace. Medtronic still hopes to continue to cut costs over the coming years, aiming for a $1 billion reduction in cost of goods sold by 2012. Investors should watch for the company's bottom line to grow faster than the top line in the future, assuming operating costs don't get out of hand.

Medtronic has turned into a cash-generating machine, increasing its dividend by 50% while using additional cash to buy back shares. Though its dividend yield of 1.4% is far from a fat payout, if Medtronic can continue its double-digit growth, investors should be rewarded with an increased stock price, not to mention further dividend increases.

Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor recommendation. To see how dividend-paying stocks can offer both secure income and the opportunity for growth, take a free look at this newsletter with a 30-day trial subscription.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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