Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)
Q1 2020 Earnings Call
Apr 16, 2020, 9:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning and thank you for standing by. Welcome to Abbott's First Quarter 2020 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be able to listen only until the question and answer portion of this call. [Operator Instructions] This call is being recorded by Abbott. With the exception of any participants' questions asked during the question-and-answer session, the entire call, including the question-and-answer session is material copyrighted by Abbott. It cannot be recorded or rebroadcast without Abbott's express written permission. I would now like to introduce Mr. Scott Leinenweber, Vice President, Investor Relations, Licensing and Acquisitions.

Scott Leinenweber -- Vice President of Investor Relations, Licensing and Acquisitions

Good morning and thank you for joining us. With me today are Robert Ford, President and Chief Executive Officer and Bob Funck, Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Robert and Bob will provide opening remarks. Following their comments, we will take your questions.

Before we get started, some statements made today may be forward looking for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the expected financial results for 2020. Abbott cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risk and uncertainties, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Abbott's operations results and financial results. This may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect Abbott's operations are discussed in Item 1A, Risk Factors to our annual report on Securities and Exchange Commission Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019. Abbott undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.

Please note that financial information provided on the call today for sales, EPS and line items of the P&L will be for continuing operations only. On today's conference call, as in the past, non-GAAP financial measures will be used to help investors understand Abbott's ongoing business performance. These non-GAAP financial measures are reconciled with the comparable GAAP financial measures in our earnings news release and regulatory filings from today, which are available on our website at abbott.com. Unless otherwise noted, our commentary on sales growth refers to organic sales growth, which is defined in our earnings news release issued earlier today. With that, I will now turn the call over to Robert.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Scott. Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us. As everyone here knows, we haven't seen a quarter or any time quite like this before. This global environment is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Before we get into the details of the quarter, I want to take a moment to thank our employees, our customers and our suppliers, all of whom are making extraordinary efforts to keep systems working, and to maintain supply of our critically important products for the people who need them.

This moment has strongly underscored two fundamental things to me. The first is the biggest and most important and that's the essential nature of health and healthcare. Times like these make very clear what truly matters the most. The second, to bring a closure to home has to do with the nature of Abbott. We've been in the business of improving people's health through medical innovation for more than 130 years. And it's in moments like these, that the importance of our mission becomes even more critical delivering for the people that depend on us.

I've been extremely impressed, though not at all surprised, by the way my colleagues around the world have stepped up to this moment. As you know, we've quickly developed and launch three diagnostic test for COVID-19, two for the laboratory setting and one for rapid point-of-care testing. At the same time, our teams in every business and around the world have been making extraordinary efforts to keep our operations running and our supply chains moving and to undertake the thousands of processes to make our vital products and get them to the people who need them. And we're also donating both funding and products to support frontline healthcare workers, families and communities to meet the challenges of this pandemic. I think this speaks to a well-known attribute of Abbott's culture. We're execution-oriented and we could be relied on to deliver when it matters the most because we know how important our work is, that lives depend on us and we take that very seriously.

Our diversified business model is a true strength in times like these, the model that has served our shareholders and the company very well. Under normal circumstances, it provides more opportunities for growth and in situations like this, it helps to dampen the impact by ensuring we're not overly reliant on a given business, products or geography.

Overall, our sales grew nearly 4.5% on an organic basis in the first quarter. Looking across our portfolio, some parts of the business faced challenges, others have been relatively stable and still others are performing at high levels to meet new demands. Beginning in February, as China implemented quarantine restrictions and non-emergency healthcare activities were postponed, we saw sharp declines in both cardiovascular device procedures and routine core laboratory diagnostic testing volumes in that country. Encouragingly, over the course of March, and the first two weeks of April, we've seen a steady improvement in procedures and testing volumes in China from the lows we saw in February.

As the virus spread geographically, the impact initially expanded to pockets of Asia and Europe beginning in late February and more broadly across Europe and the U.S. during the last few weeks of March. As the healthcare industry shifted its focus to fighting the virus, we saw similar impacts to our business as those we had seen in China. Based on our most recent data points, while we haven't seen a rebound, we're starting to see some signs of stabilization. Importantly, while we're navigating the demands of the current environment, we continue to advance our pipeline and strengthen our long term growth platforms.

Over the last few months, we've announced CE Mark approvals of new products in important cardiovascular device areas including TriClip, the world's first minimally invasive device for repairing a leaky tricuspid heart valve, Tendyne a first-of-its-kind device for mitral heart valve replacement and Gallant, our next generation implantable cardiac defibrillator. In EPD and Nutrition, underlying market growth and share dynamics remain in line with historical trends during the quarter, with the exception of increased demand during late March in advance of shelter-in-place restrictions in certain markets, most notably in U.S. Pediatric Nutrition.

In Diabetes Care, FreeStyle Libre continue to add new users at a strong and steady rate throughout the quarter, as reflected by sales growth of more than 60%. We also continue to expand reimbursement coverage for Libre around the world, including recently becoming the only continuous glucose monitoring system to obtain reimbursement in Japan for people with Type 2 diabetes. And just last week, we announced the availability of FreeStyle Libre for hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The Libre system allows front line healthcare workers and hospitals to remotely monitor glucose levels in patients with diabetes in order to minimize exposure to COVID-19 and preserve the use of personal protective equipment. In partnership with the American Diabetes Association, Abbott has donated 25,000 FreeStyle Libre sensors to U.S. hospitals and medical centers and outbreak hotspots to help accelerate access to the technology.

Before I wrap up, I'd like to take a moment to discuss our ongoing efforts in the area of diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Abbott has long been a global leader in infectious disease testing, so leading in this area is a role we can and should play. In late March, we launched two molecular diagnostic test to detect COVID-19, one for our ID NOW rapid point-of-care platform and one for our m2000 laboratory platform. Over the past few weeks, we've been actively working with government authorities and health systems to deploy these tests to places of greatest need. And just yesterday, we announced the launch of a lab based serology test for the detection of the antibody IgG. While molecular testing detects whether someone currently has the virus, antibody test determine if someone was previously infected. We already began shipping these antibody test and intend to ship 4 million tests in April and ramping up capacity to 20 million tests per month in June and beyond.

But our efforts don't stop there. We're moving as fast as we can to develop additional tests including a lab-based serology test to detect another important antibody IgM, which we expect to launch in the near future. I'd like to thank our outstanding scientists, as well as our manufacturing, supply chain and business teams. They really stepped up to the challenge and are doing extraordinary work to increase availability of diagnostic testing as we fight this pandemic.

So in summary, this unprecedented situation underscores our purpose and the strength of our diversified business model. The underlying fundamentals of our business remains strong and our manufacturing and supply chain have been highly resilient. We've long planned for how to maintain business continuity in the face of a global crisis and our employees and suppliers have risen to the challenge.

And lastly, Abbott is contributing in a significant and meaningful way by providing new test solutions across our diagnostic platforms to help screen as many people as possible. I'll now turn over the call to Bob. Bob?

Robert E. Funck Jr. -- Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Robert. As Scott mentioned earlier, Please note that all references to sales growth rates, unless otherwise noted, are on an organic basis, which is consistent with our previous guidance. Turning to our results, sales for the first quarter increased 4.3%. Our adjusted gross margin ratio was 58% of sales. R&D investment was 7.3% of sales and adjusted SG&A expense was 32.2% of sales.

Exchange had an unfavorable year-over-year impact of 1.8% on first quarter sales. During the quarter, we saw the U.S. dollar strengthen versus most currencies, which resulted in a larger unfavorable impact on sales compared to expectations, had exchange rates held steady since the time of our earnings call in January. Based on current rates, we would now expect exchange to have a negative impact of a little more than 3% on our full year sales.

As we announced this morning in our earnings news release, given the uncertainties regarding the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we're suspending our previously issued annual guidance for sales and earnings per share. We're actively monitoring the situation closely and we'll provide updates as appropriate.

Before we open the call for questions, I'd like to briefly discuss Abbott's overall financial condition. As this situation has reminded all of us, unforeseen events can rapidly change the environment we operate in. And our philosophy of maintaining strong financial flexibility is in place for just these types of moments. Overall, I'd say, our financial health is strong. We ended the first quarter with approximately $3.7 billion of cash and short term investments and we have existing agreements in place that will provide additional access to $5 billion, if needed.

As you know, over the last couple of years, we have put a heavy emphasis on strong cash flow generation and rapid debt paydown following a period of strategic shaping. This focused effort has positioned us with healthy leverage ratios and only a modest amount of debt coming due over the next few years. It has also resulted in strong investment grade credit ratings. That said, we are prudently planning to ensure we can withstand a variety of potential scenarios that may emerge over the coming months.

As Robert mentioned earlier, our diversified business model is a true strength in times like these. I would also add that our disciplined and thoughtful approach to financial decisions and capital allocation priorities are also strengths and that Abbott is well-positioned to navigate this challenge. With that, we'll now open the call for questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] And our first question comes from Robbie Marcus with J.P. Morgan. Your line is open.

Robert Marcus -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Thanks, and congrats on a good quarter, all things considered. Maybe I can start with two positives in the portfolio here. I'll ask them separately. First on Diagnostics, Abbott is leading the way, you have three different test, ID NOW molecular test, the m2000 SARS-COVID-19 test, and then the antibody test, which was just announced. I know a lot of people are interested in the potential of all three of these tests here, so I was wondering if you could give us an overview of where you are with the testing, the potential revenue implications and volumes that you'll have and any other tests that we should be on the look out for on the horizon here. Thanks.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Robbie. So, yeah, it was definitely an intense first quarter here for our Diagnostics business, even though it doesn't look like that in the sales number, right. We've got a core Lab business that had some declines and had given the similar dynamics that we saw in our cardiovascular procedures as the hospitalization and procedures kind of came down. And then on the other side of the business, we have our rapid and molecular business where we did see positive growth in the quarter, and we actually didn't have a lot of COVID test sales for those businesses in the quarter. As you know, we got our approvals toward the end of the quarter, last week or so in March. So the potential here for the COVID tests are more significant for us in the second quarter here.

But our biggest motivation on the testing aspect here, the key driver here is we want to help people, we want to help people get tested, we want to help society move forward, we want to help workers get back to work, people get back to schools, etc. So when you look at the diagnostic platform, the suite of platforms and products that we have built over the last 20 years here, they've really been aimed at being able to do just that.

So in mid-February, when we saw that the virus was not going to mimic what we had seen in maybe previous viruses like a SARs, or MERs, for example, and we saw that this was going to be something much more significant, much more widespread, we assembled four different and independent R&D teams to go about it in individual groups. I mean, there was obviously some collaboration between them, but we wanted them stand-alone going after four different types of tests, say, a molecular lab test, a molecular point-of-care test, a lab-based serology test and a lateral raw serology test. And we did that, not because we thought that we needed four shots on goal here to try and get one or two of them to get it. We understood, given our experience here that all four of these tests, all four of these different types of testing would be needed. All four of them had a different value proposition.

So if you look at the lab-based systems, more high throughput, got a lot of test done. There's a little bit of a turnaround time there, one, two, three days, etc, but we knew we needed that kind of testing volume. We also knew that we needed fast, immediate, more faster immediate results maybe with the notion of having some portability where you'd be able to take the test straight to testing people, not having to restrict them to having to go to a lab or a hospital. And we also knew that there was going to be a need for mass volume screening. So when we look at the assembly of these four different tests that we've been working on, that's the -- that was the goal, to understand that there is a viral progression that occurs where in the beginning, in the early stages, you need molecular testing to be able to diagnose if somebody has the virus and as the degrees progresses and people start to build antibodies to that, you're going to need a different type of test and in different formats of the test.

So I would say every single one of our programs here, either met or beat their target dates. And there's probably two reasons for that. One of them is, I'd say, just a very passionate and committed scientific and manufacturing team here that really went 24/7. I mean, one of our teams split in two so they could go 24 hours a day, 10 days a week to be able to continue the work and doing the work, so that's one key driver. And I'd say, the other one here, and we talked a bit about this, is a very collaborative science-based approach of our work with the FDA throughout every step of our development process. We worked real-time with the FDA, sharing them our technology, sharing how we are going to do the clinical, sharing with them the results, taking input and feedback from them on a real-time basis. And I think the combination of those two factors really allowed us to to do this -- at least these three tests here in record time.

And I think what you're seeing -- at least what we see a lot is the reward of that. It's very rewarding to see the vision that we had about these different types of tests and different types of platforms being deployed to the way that we had thought and envision them to be and then to get the feedback back. I mean, the amount of stories that I've received from CEO's, from mayors, from governors about our rapid test and how we envision that test roll out to be -- to start off with frontline workers, whether it's an ICU nurse, an ER doctor, so that they can be tested. If they had thought that they had symptoms, they're going to have to be self quarantined for four or five days until their lab test would come back, and now with the rapid test in 15 minutes, they would know whether they would need to get appropriate care or whether they could return to the frontline and that's been exactly how we envision that product to work, at least in our initial rollout.

We also were shipping a lot of m2000's. I mean we have a lot of m2000's in the country, but we also began shipping them to some pretty difficult areas where the turnaround time that we had heard from mayors and governors was over two weeks. So now we can ship these boxes -- these lab boxes and they can do close to 500 test, 470 test a day and get results in 24 hours. So the way we've developed these tests, the way we've put them out to the market, the way we've launched them, the way we've worked with the labs and the hospitals is exactly how we had envisioned this.

Obviously, there's a lot of stories that I believe has been seen recently about the difficulty to find the tests, etc, and what I would say there is, we've done everything that we said we were going to do. We've delivered everything that we said we were going to deliver, obviously, that is not enough. We still need to do more and there is a need here to manufacture more test. Scaling is important and we have to get these tests out, we use high-precision high-automated manufacturing process and some of those, we've been able to kind of utilize existing assets that we have, to manufacturer. In other cases, it's not enough and we need to buy more, we need to set up more and that obviously takes some time here, but you have a committed, dedicated team here that's really doing 24/7 type of work.

But on the ID NOW side, I mean, we made commitments to manufacturers to start manufacturing 50,000 tests per day starting April 1, and we're halfway through the month here already and we've delivered exactly that. And every day, I get to see the manufacturing and the shipment output and we haven't fallen behind that and several days, we've beaten that number and able to get more tests out. And we've worked collaboratively with federal government, with state government, with the governors, with mayors. We provide everybody daily reports on what we've made and where we've shipped the product. It's a collaborative process to be able to allocate the test to the areas that are needed the most. As I said on ID NOW, our first phase was to roll this out to ensure that the frontline healthcare workers were tested and were protected. And as we start to ramp up manufacturing for ID NOW, as we'll start to implement those actions in the month of May into June, we'll start to roll this out into a second phase where we will start to be able to test more of the general population and we started to work on some pilots here with with CVS and other retailers here to say, OK, how can we get this system out of the hospital into more decentralized testing so we can test the general population, whether it's in urgent care clinics, nursing homes, retail settings, etc. So that's on target, on plan also.

And on the m2000, we made a commitment when we got approval to ship out 1 million test during the month of March, and we did exactly that. On the IgG, we just announced yesterday, we talked about shipping 4 million tests, put a stake in the ground there. I got an update from my team yesterday, they already have orders for about a quarter of that as of yesterday. So, we're moving fast here and we know that we need to play our role here in manufacturing and getting as most test out as possible to this platform that we've developed. We've also been very clear about how we're selling the product. We sell the product from our warehouse right into our customers. We try to limit as much as we can the use of wholesalers and distributors. So that's worked very well. We're making weekly shipments. So there is no hoarding and we can get to as many people, as many customers as we can and we're selling all of these tests at the same selling price that we were previously selling all of our other assays for these instruments.

So the ID NOW COVID test, we're selling at the same price that we sell our ID NOW flu test and the same for all of our other assays and the other boxes. So we're working on our last platform here, which is our lateral flow serology test. This will allow us to scale up the numbers much more significant than some of these that I've talked about. This falls into our ability to kind of look at mass testing for the general population. They're on time right now and we're almost there. So I would say, we've got a promising Q2 ahead of us as it relates to testing. I'm not going to try here and forecast exactly how this is going to look like in Q2, right now, but it's clear that the demand for testing is big. It's not going to go away, and I think that the team here has aligned a portfolio of testing solutions that have a wide variety of different uses and we'll play a key role in ramping up testing.

Robert Marcus -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Appreciate the response, very helpful. And maybe just one other bright spot in the portfolio is Libre. This is a non-procedure based recurring revenue product, you had great international numbers, the U.S. number had looked a little lighter this quarter, kind of flat quarter-over-quarter. Maybe just help us understand the trends in that business and how sustainable that is, as people are away from their endocrinologist. Thanks.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. As I've said, if you look at our script data, if you want a look at the U.S. data, we had a very good quarter as it relates to kind of script and beginning of the year, I talked about how we were deploying a lot of demand generation strategies here, whether with sales force expansions, direct-to-consumer, advertising, etc, and you can see that those that follow the weekly Rx data, you can see that inflection point starting in the first couple of weeks of January here versus where we exited. So our scripts between Q1 of 2020 and Q4 of '19, the scripts actually grew 35% sequentially. Obviously, over 100%, if you look at it over year-over-year.

So the sequential growth rate there, that maybe you're referring to, is really focused here on just kind of timing of sales and sales shipments in the quarter. I expect to see that shipment selling mimic what we've been seeing in our Rx generation in the U.S. that you saw in the first quarter. And I think that speaks a lot to the value proposition of FreeStyle Libre. It is -- not only is it accessible, affordable, but it's easy to use, it's easier to start patients on the product. So I think that we've seen that play out here even within the situation that we saw with COVID in the US. And you're right, in international business, has done very, very well, growing at very high rates and that's off a very, very large base.

So I'm very pleased with the international business. I think there is more work to be done there for sure. We're starting to roll out the Libre 2 product in Europe and in the international markets a little bit more intentionally with that expansion. I think we showed some of our accuracy data on Libre 2 in the European Conference beginning of this month. And I think that's going to help fuel a lot of our growth also in the international markets too.

Robert Marcus -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Appreciate it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from David Lewis from Morgan Stanley. Your line is open.

David Lewis -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Good morning. Robert, just a couple of quick questions from me. I guess, the first thing is you're sort of thinking about recovery. You just gave some comments on China, but I wonder, where is China right now as a kind of a percent of prior normal in the U.S.? Have you seen week over week, the business get softer as the U.S. sort of read some stabilization at a trough? And then just more broadly, how are you thinking about sort of recovery kind of across the quarters this year? Any qualitative commentary would be helpful. And then I had a quick follow-up.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So just on your question on China, I mean, it's an important market for us, but we're not overly reliant on China. But let me put the -- let me put your general demand question here, I think, a little bit into context and I'll kind of walk through what we saw in the quarter geographically and across the businesses and then talk a little bit about how we see the rest of the year going. But if you look at our business and break them out into two groups, I would say more hospital-based demand generation businesses and then the second part, more consumer-based demand businesses. They're about 50-50, roughly 50-50 in size and we don't tend to look at our businesses that way, David.

But I think as we looked at coronavirus and started to look at our models, we started to look at this approach here by looking at hospital and consumer-based. On the consumer-based side businesses, if you look at our our EPD business, our Nutrition business, our Diabetes Care business, all of them performed, in the quarter, very, very well. They all performed in line with our trends, with our targets, with our aspirations, with the execution of of our growth strategy. Obviously, the exception to that was some parts of our Nutrition business where we did see pantry loading as a result of some of -- toward the end of March there, we saw a lot of consumers try to stock up and get ready. But excluding that, all of them kind of performed well and on target and obviously there was increased demand for some of these products and our supply chain was resilient, was able to fulfill them.

So I see those businesses, kind of, going forth and performing at the same kind of trend, at the same rate that we have been seeing. Obviously, we might see a little bit of Nutrition in the second quarter, adjust a little bit. But overall, I see these businesses performing at the same kind of trend. If we look at the hospital-based businesses, sort of think about that as kind of the more core lab testing, our cardiovascular portfolio even to some extent, our neuromodulation business, even though it's not hospital, it's more ASC. We definitely saw a decrease in those procedures, in those elective procedures, and in that routine testing. And even within those, you see some differentiation. So we didn't see our Heart Failure business get impacted that much because those are life-saving devices versus NEP [Phonetic] ablation procedure that was more elective and could be pushed out.

So -- but in general, I would say, testing and procedures, we saw that drop. We collect daily device implant data and we collect daily hospital diagnostic testing data and we collected on a global basis. So I think we've got a pretty robust set of information that we can look at here as we start to observe kind of the trends that we saw in the quarter. And as we shared, we're starting to see an improving trend here in China. It's not to the level that we saw in our normal levels pre-COVID, say, December, January kind of rate. But they're definitely not as low as where they were in February, and we're starting to kind of see them every week, get better and better in getting closer to those levels that we saw pre-COVID.

We've seen other markets around the world, whether its Asia or some of the other European smaller markets there, where we've seen the beginning of the same kind of recovery trend that we saw in China. So starting to see some of the beginning of that recovery. And then in other markets, we're seeing kind of just a flattening and a stabilization here that's suggesting here that the speed of the virus is a little bit more controlled. So if I look at this data and we've looked at it various different ways, we've run a lot of different forecast models and sensitivities here, there's couple of things that I can see ahead of us here. Right? The first one is, Q2 will likely be our toughest quarter in the year, especially, I would say, for our core lab business and our cardio and neuro businesses. This will probably be our toughest quarter for those and I think our consumer businesses will continue to perform at the trends and dynamics that I just explained.

The second thing that we can see here based on our modeling, based on the data that we're seeing from -- that we're collecting on a daily basis, is that we can see a recovery into Q3 and into Q4, especially for these more elective procedures. There are some that, yeah, you can push out, but they are important. They are life-saving, they are solving some significant problems, whether it's a stent, a pacemaker, repairing a mitral valve. We will see those start to come back the same way that we started to see in some of the earlier markets that have kind of -- that are further along in the recovery. I don't believe that they're going to come back at the same speed that they came down, but like I said, these are important procedures and I do see them coming back. I'm talking to a lot of health systems, a lot of CEOs from health systems and they are already talking about how they are planning to start to work with some of those elective procedures. It will be a V-shape. I don't think it will be -- I think the right hand side of that V-shape will be definitely a little less steeper than the left hand side of that V-shape. But I think we're going to see that recovery in Q3 and Q4. At least, that's what our data is suggesting. Clearly, it's quite possible that other industries might take longer to recover, but I think for healthcare the data -- our modeling here suggest the kind of recovery that I've just described.

And the third thing we can see here clearly is that testing is going to play a major role here at getting back to work, getting back to school, getting people back to factories, back to distribution centers, etc, and we know that this is 24/7 type of work that our teams need to do to be able to kind of scale up. And I think that the sales ramp and potential etc, is really going to be guided by our manufacturing ramp up and our ability to kind of deliver on that manufacturing ramp up and I think that we've been batting at a very high average here based on the commitments that we've made.

So when you look at all of that and you put all of this into context here, we have decided here to suspend our guidance. We're usually right here to the penny every quarter and it's going to be -- right now, it's going to be very difficult to be able to get that right to the penny going forward. But I believe that we'll be in a position to give, let's say, some more qualitative update sometime in the quarter. And depending on how that goes, we might be able to give guidance in the second half here. So I've looked at the consensus that's been put out there, I mean, we beat the revised consensus across our business. I'll leave the consensus where it is right now, given that it is a pretty fluid situation. But I think we could do better, but there's just too much depends on right now for us. So we're going to keep on focusing on what we're doing and sometime throughout the quarter here, if we feel that we're in a better position to be able to give some more qualitative assessment and guidance, we'll do that.

David Lewis -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, Rob. That's actually very specific. Probably more than I hoped for. And then in terms of the second question, just, you've probably been less active on growth oriented M&A these last couple of years than some of your peers, but you're going to emerge from this pandemic crisis with probably the strongest balance sheet in large cap device. So how are we thinking about your interest in -- buybacks, I imagine, are less of your focus, but your interest in opportunistic M&A here coming out of this crisis? Thanks so much.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. Listen, I'd say, right now, we've done a lot of work on our balance sheet over the last couple of years. We've talked a lot about the work we've done to improve our leverage ratios, the work that the organization has done to improve our cash conversion cycle. So, yeah, our financial strength here is very strong. As Bob talked about, we've got strong cash position here toward the end of the quarter, close to $4 billion. We have access to credit facilities. And we've got businesses that are strong cash flow generators and that's going to be important as we go forward. We don't have a lot of of debt maturing or coming due here in the next couple of years.

So I don't foresee our capital allocation strategy here to kind of really change at this point. We have a strong dividend, we pay a strong dividend and we're going to continue to do that. That's an important part of our identity. We haven't done a lot of share repurchases, historically. Most of the time, when we do that, it's really just to try and offset some of the dilution. I think Bob and the finance team, I would say, is definitely looking at our capex and our capex spending. I don't -- we'll probably see some slow down a little bit in that and the team -- I know Bob is kind of working on that. We'll see how that's going to look like. But that will just be a factor of getting the work done and, right now, there are some of our projects that require people to be building sites etc. So we'll continue to focus on that, we'll continue to build our capacity expansions that we've talked about in the past. But we'll probably see some phasing, a little bit over there.

And on your question on M&A, I mean, I'm not really looking at anything. As we talked about it, there is an opportunistic side to it and then there is a strategic side to it. And on the strategic side, I just don't see anything right now that fits what we want to do and where we want to go and, quite frankly, our execution here, again, going back, and maybe this sounds a little bit broken record here, but we've just got so many opportunities in our existing portfolio to keep on focusing on and now you layer on top of that the opportunity we have on our testing platforms. So our big focus here is on internal execution.

David Lewis -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Very good. Thanks so much, Robert.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Bob Hopkins from Bank of America. Your line is open.

Bob Hopkins -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Great. Thanks, good morning. Just a couple of quick questions. First, I wanted to kind of circle back to the testing, specifically regarding the two COVID-19 tests that are being run on ID NOW and m2000. I just want to be super clear on where you are today in terms of shipping capacity. Is it that 5 million per month that you talked about and also can you give us a sense, as we look forward, given the critical importance of these tests, kind of where you will be, say, maybe mid-year in terms of testing and shipping capacity? Thank you.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure. On the testing side, I mean we talked about achieving a manufacturing ramp up here as we come out of the gates with the ID NOW platform at about 1.5 million tests and we're on target to do that, definitely throughout the middle of this month here. And we're making improvements in the manufacturing process and adding more shifts, etc, to be able to expand that to get to 2 million tests by June and that's what we've talked about. And right now we're on plan, on target to be able to kind of deliver on that expansion. Obviously, we need more than 2 million of the ID NOW test, so we're looking at how we can ramp up. As I explained in the beginning on the first question, these manufacturing processes are highly precise, highly automated, so that we can get the performance and the reliability of the product. So these involve making -- setting up manufacturing lines, and then you don't do those in a week or two weeks. So there's a lot of work going on there, but we know we need to do -- we know that there is a need for more ID NOW tests.

And on the m2000, we made a commitment here to ship 1 million tests in the month of March, which we did. We talked about shipping 4 million tests in the month of April and we are on target to do that, to manufacture 4 million test and we're on target to do that. We've moved the team along to find ways that we can expand that and the teams are working on that also. So I'd say, right now, that 5 million tests mark on those two test is where we're at. And as we make progress with our manufacturing ramp-ups, we will be clear about what the markets can expect from.

Bob Hopkins -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Great, thank you. And then one follow-up on the same sort of topic on -- congratulations on the new serology test that you just announced. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about sensitivity and specificity data relating to that test and whether you think the high levels that have been quoted are kind of sustainable when you think about general population testing. Thank you.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, to answer your question on the accuracy, right now, the label we have is, if you do the test 14 days post-symptoms, the sensitivity of the test is 100% and the specificity of that test is 99.5% and that's over a 1,000 samples. So I think we've got a very accurate reliable test here to be able to work on. Obviously, if you try and do this test five days after you've been exposed to the virus, your body hasn't produced enough antibodies to be able to be detected at a reliable accurate level. So that's why, when I talked about how we've set up our test, the forms, the different form factors that the use of the antibody test is more to look toward a couple of weeks after somebody has been exposed. Have they built enough antibodies that they've defeated the virus? So that's the data.

Bob Hopkins -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Thanks, Robert.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from Vijay Kumar from Evercore. Your line is open.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my question. And congratulations, guys. Two questions from me. So one, maybe on the near term, the -- I guess when you think about the serology test and applicability to opening up the economy, there are some issues around prevalence rates and fast positives and is this now paving the way for a second wave of infection. So maybe address how these tests could be deployed perhaps in helping us open up the economy. And one other, when you think about your employees getting back to work, what signs are you looking for to completely open up workforce and let employees back.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, I mean, as I said, we have to look at the suite of test as not -- one test is not the panacea. You need to look at the comprehensive suite of testing and deploy them in the right ways over here. As I said, I think the serology test here is very reliable as we roll this out for the antibodies we're working on in IgG, on an IgM antibody test also.

Obviously, as companies are thinking about coming back to work, the way we're looking at this a little bit is, OK, we know that there is going to be a little bit different -- work a little bit differently the way we've historically been working. So maybe not a lot of big kind of meetings, 20 people, 30 people and the meeting rooms will probably be a little bit different than that. I think we'll see people wearing masks. I think we'll see more cleaning of door knobs and elevator buttons and all of that and I think that's ongoing right now. I think there are a lot of companies that are doing this right now. And that seems to be working. So if you now add on, to all of those protocols, a kind of lateral flow test here, that's got a very strong sensitivity, reliability, etc, and you add that on and you can test, at companies, using an occupational health team, etc, that will be an additional layer of security of testing that will be on top of like thermometers and everything I just described also. So I think it's going to be an important tool.

And I think that we've talked about this a lot in terms of microclimates. We try to think about everybody coming back at once and then you use all this data that you just referenced, prevalence and sensitivity and specificity and you try to look at that at very large populations. We need to think about it more in terms of like a factory, an office building, a school and then running these tests will allow you to, on top of what you are doing, provide another tool to be able to assist companies and schools, etc, get people back to work. So I think that's how, at least, we are looking at it and I think how I've heard other companies looking at how to reopen, how to get back.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

That's helpful. And then maybe one bigger picture question or maybe this is more -- help us understand on how we should be thinking about the future. Because when I look at 2021 and obviously, I'm not asking for guidance, we know '20 was impacted. What is the right base to be looking at procedure volumes? Right? When you look at the underlying rate of incidence and prevalence pool for disease states, those really haven't changed. So if we don't have a second wave of infection coming in or next year being impacted, should we be looking at procedure volumes in '19 as a base, the right base to build off or should we be -- there are some issues on hospital capacity constraints and should we be looking at the depressed 2020 procedure numbers as the right base to looking at how those numbers could trend next year? Thank you.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I can appreciate you're trying to figure out 2021 already, Vijay, but, listen, I think it's pretty tough right now for us to figure out how exactly Q2 is going to look like, let alone next year. But I think you raised some of the unknowns here that really make it difficult to predict how fast the economy recovers, how fast hospitals return to normalcy, how does our testing platform and how's the testing environment involved. So, listen, we're all hoping for fast recovery here, but if it takes longer, we'll have strong demand for testing and that will continue to help buffer the impact. I do think there is a lot of pent-up demand here on cardiovascular devices and diagnostics and I think hospitals are figuring out how they're going to get back to work. I think there is a lot of patients that are in need of care.

And I think that -- I don't know if we can predict exactly when it's going to come back, but I do think that when it does come back, I think you will see these device procedures, which are extremely important in the care continuum, etc, that we will see them come back. So that's probably my best answer for you is, I believe that we will see a recovery toward the second half of this year in these elective procedures and can kind of try and model out what kind of V-shape is it. Is it -- does it look more like an L, does it look more like a V, is it something in between, etc,. But I think that's how, at least, we are looking at the rest of this year.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

That's helpful. Thank you, Robert.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Matt Taylor with UBS. Your line is open.

Matt Taylor -- UBS -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. Thanks for taking the question. So first question I just wanted to follow up on the testing since it's so important and certainly commend the team for their efforts and getting those out so quickly. Two part, one is you mentioned in the earlier remarks that there's been a lot of commentary about difficulty in the testing market and it's not only due to kits, but folks have mentioned swabs and reagents and other things like that. I was just wondering, from your perspective, I'm sure you're getting a lot of feedback on this, what do you think is the biggest challenge out there in terms of getting access to testing now and how do you see it improving over the next weeks and months? And then on -- go ahead, sorry.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No, on the question there of testing and testing supplies and shortages there, I mean, I think when you look at kind of what we've done, I mean, we've made sure obviously that when we ship out our test, they have everything they need to test whether it's controls, calibrators, whether it's swabs in ID NOW. Those come together here. So, from Abbott's perspective, we're trying to make sure that they have everything that they need. I do think that, some of the challenges you have is potentially workflow. At least for us, we've got our m2000's, they're in regional hospitals, regional labs, which is a good thing because you can have, not only your big central labs doing a lot of centralization, but then you can use the regional network to be able to get to test and I just think it's a workflow process here, how to get the samples.

I think a lot of hospitals might not want to be doing a lot of mass testing into the hospitals. So how do you collect the samples and then how do you bring them into the hospital and then how do you get them out. So I think that's probably one of the bigger challenges. And I think that the team, whether it's on the federal government side and also with a lot of governors, are figuring this out and they're sharing how they're doing it and sharing best practices and at least on our side, we're starting to see a ramp up here on the m2000. But there's obviously more that they can do.

Matt Taylor -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay, and then one follow-up on that. I think on the last question, you commented on the accuracy of the serology test, which is high. Could you comment on the accuracy of the other test, your confidence in them with smaller samples that you had to get out quickly and the relative importance of the two serology tests in determining who's had the virus and who has immunity?

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, sure. So on the molecular test, listen, molecular test is the gold standard for accuracy. RNA testing, testing viral load, etc, is the gold standard. And if you look at how we did the test, obviously, it's -- it was worked in conjunction with the FDA, using a testing model that was provided by the FDA. The tests are performed at 100% of the expected outcomes in the samples for both negative and positive results. So I think the ID NOW system is very reliable. The other m2000, we use levels of detection and I mean you can go through levels of detection labels and you could see the accuracy and reliability of the m2000 versus the other systems that have been approved also.

So -- and as I said, the use of the antibody test is just going to be an important tool in conjunction with kind of molecular testing to be able to screen test and manage the population. So we'll see how that's going to kind of roll out and it will follow kind of the vision that we've kind of thought of having both the lab-based system and a lateral flow-based system.

Matt Taylor -- UBS -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Scott Leinenweber -- Vice President of Investor Relations, Licensing and Acquisitions

Okay. We'll take one more question, operator.

Operator

Thank you. And our final question comes from Larry Biegelsen from Wells Fargo. Your line is open.

Larry Biegelsen -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Good morning, thanks for taking the question. Robert, let me just ask one multi-part device question on two milestones we were waiting for, the MitraClip FMR, NCD, any update there? And of course Libre 2, any update on the status there? Just lastly any other timelines in devices that could be impacted by coronavirus would be helpful. So, thanks so much for taking the question.

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Larry. I was waiting for the Libre question. Let me answer your you're CMS question over here on secondary MR. As you would expect, under these circumstances here, the CMS has delayed the issuance of the proposed NCD. We were previously expecting that to be mid-February. But given the current circumstances, the delay here isn't really having an impact on our business. I'm confident in the process. I'm confident that we've been working with them and the different societies over here, and this will move forward on the appropriate time.

On Libre 2, I guess, I sound like a broken record here, Larry, but what I'll say is, I'm very confident in the product the same way that I've been saying. I'm confident, I mean, I think some of you might have seen the accuracy data that we published at the European Conference beginning of February or so. So I'm very encouraged about resolving these -- some of these kind of open items here in the near future with the FDA. We're just working through some finishing items. So -- but like I said, that's not holding back Libre or Libre's growth here. So more to come.

Larry Biegelsen -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Anything else that we should be aware of that could be impacted on the device side from a timeline standpoint?

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

There's been some discussion on clinical trial and clinical trial regulatory timeline here. Our near term forecast here wasn't really overly reliant on kind of any patient enrollment endpoint. There's obviously been some delays in some of the enrollment and as we've seen a kind of mandate here to pause some of these procedures here. So -- but I think once this is over for the ongoing trials that have kind of longer timelines here, we'll look at opportunities that we'll have to accelerate enrollment and make up for some time here. So let me just say here then, closing here, I think we had a pretty unusual quarter here for us. I think you saw the strength of our diversified business model come through here in true strength. Some parts of the business, we did have some challenges, as I've described. Other parts of the business has been pretty stable and I think they'll continue to be pretty stable. And then there are others that are performing at very high levels. And I think we'll start to see, on the testing side, how fast we can ramp up.

The team here has done an amazing job around the world, not only to develop the test, but also the manufacturing, the supply chain teams across the world, across our network, have done an incredible job. I think our -- I said, our financial strength here is pretty strong. I think we had that question here and we'll continue to look at ways to improve on that. And as I said, we believe that there is a recovery and we'll start to see that, I believe, in the Q3, Q4 timeframe. I think healthcare is a little bit different than you might expect from maybe other industries. So once we get better -- a better sense of how that's going to look like toward the second half of the year, we'll definitely be updating and providing some more qualitative updates on that. So, OK?

Larry Biegelsen -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

Good.

Scott Leinenweber -- Vice President of Investor Relations, Licensing and Acquisitions

All right, well, thank you operator and thank you for all of your questions. This now concludes Abbott's conference call. A webcast replay of this call will be available after 11:00 AM Central Time today on Abbott's Investor Relations website at abbottinvestor.com. Thank you for joining us today.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 60 minutes

Call participants:

Scott Leinenweber -- Vice President of Investor Relations, Licensing and Acquisitions

Robert B. Ford -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Robert E. Funck Jr. -- Executive Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer

Robert Marcus -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

David Lewis -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Bob Hopkins -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Matt Taylor -- UBS -- Analyst

Larry Biegelsen -- Wells Fargo -- Analyst

More ABT analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo