Becton, Dickinson (BDX -0.01%) has operations in over 50 countries and sells a variety of different medical instruments and supplies. There's no question it can provide a lot of diversification for investors and be a great way to take a position in the healthcare industry as the Fortune 200 company has a market cap of $74 billion and can offer a lot of long-term stability. But for investors who want more than just stability, Becton may not be a slam-dunk buy.
Is there enough growth for investors?
In November, the company released its year-end financials for fiscal 2019. Total revenue for the year of $17.3 billion grew by 8.2% from the $16 billion that it generated in the prior year. However, on a currency-neutral basis, Becton's top line rose by a more modest 5.1%. For fiscal 2020, management is expecting similar growth, with currency-neutral revenue projected to rise between 5% and 5.5%.
The company's reported sales from its U.S. operations totaled $9.7 billion. That was an 11% improvement from 2018's total of $8.8 billion, but foreign exchange bumped those numbers up. On a currency-neutral level, its growth was just 4.5%. Internationally, the growth was slightly stronger when taking out the impact of foreign currency, with sales up by 5.9% from the prior year. China is one area that has been very strong for the company, where currency-neutral sales were up more than 11% for the full year, generating $1.2 billion in revenue.
At a modest 5% growth, there isn't a whole lot for growth investors to get excited about there. Whether or not Becton will offer enough potential growth for its investors depends in large part on the successes of some of its newest products.
Excited about upcoming products, but is there enough there?
There are a couple of key products CEO Vincent Forlenza is excited about this year, including the launch of BD InSyte Autoguard Blood Control Pro, a new type of catheter that will make it easier for nurses to use and to know when a cannula is in a patient's vein. The company expects the product will be available "early in fiscal year 2020," although it doesn't specify an exact date.
Another product in the works for this year is the BD Intevia, which is described as an auto-injector "that is designed to effectively and safely inject a variety of drugs of different viscosities and different volumes." These product will fall within Becton's medical segment, which covers the delivery and management of medication, including products such as syringes, needles, and catheters. The segment is the largest of the company's operations, accounting for 52% of its revenue in fiscal 2019, and it rose by 5.1% (currency-neutral) from the prior year.
Becton also generates about 23% of sales from its interventional segment, which includes surgical products as well as those used for oncology, vascular, and urology. At 5.5% neutral-currency sales growth this past year, it's the fastest-growing segment as well as the smallest, with revenue totaling just $3.9 billion. The life sciences segment, which saw the least amount of revenue growth in fiscal 2019 from the prior year, at just 4.9% when excluding the impact of foreign exchange, focuses on preanalytical and diagnostic systems, and it accounted for approximately 25% of revenue this past year.
Is the stock too expensive
Possibly the biggest detractor from buying Becton today is that the stock is near its 52-week high, and after soaring 24% over the past year, which is still shy of the S&P 500's returns of 30% during that time, it may have become too expensive a stock to own. With a forward price-to-earnings ratio of nearly 20 and a PEG ratio of more than two, the company is trading at a premium and needs to show a lot more growth for it to be a good stock to invest in today.
Even with the company coming out with some new products for fiscal 2020, management isn't expecting the year to be any stronger than fiscal 2019. That could be a concern as these new products may not provide the growth investors may be hoping for.
Not enough reason to be bullish on Becton today
Becton is an expensive healthcare stock to buy today, and its modest dividend of 1.2% falls below the 1.85% that stocks on the S&P 500 average. Unless there's a big development that changes the stock's outlook, Becton isn't a great buy for value, growth, or even dividend investors.