What happened

Shares of Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO) lept over 45% last year, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The scientific-research products monopoly didn't do anything impressive, but its massive market position means it didn't have to. The growth stock easily bested the roughly 29% gain of the S&P 500 in 2019.

In the first nine months of 2019, the business reported revenue of $18.7 billion, marking a 4.8% increase from the year-ago period. Operating income barely budged, although that was entirely due to a $442 million restructuring charge. Investors are nonetheless content with the company's moves to position itself for future growth.

A red paper airplane leading a swarm of white paper airplanes higher.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Thermo Fisher Scientific continued to make investments to keep up with the fast pace of innovation in biological technologies. In May, the business completed the $1.7 billion acquisition of viral vector manufacturing leader Brammer Bio. The move allows Thermo Fisher Scientific to play in the quickly growing area of clinical and commercial gene-therapy manufacturing.

The scientific-research products leader also acquired a pharmaceutical-manufacturing facility in Cork, Ireland for approximately $117 million, which will bolster its production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. 

And in a quiet move that may have been overlooked by investors, Thermo Fisher Scientific announced plans to invest $50 million to expand its production footprint of single-use bioreactors and other equipment. The products are increasingly important in both pharmaceutical and industrial biotech applications but have been in short supply in recent years. The business has responded by investing heavily in its TruBio brand of automated bioprocess systems. 

Now what

Thermo Fisher Scientific wrapped up 2019 by announcing a $2.5 billion share-repurchase program, which replaced the prior buyback plan that had $500 million remaining. Considering the massive financial resources and market reach of the company's business, investors may be expecting the momentum to continue for the foreseeable future.

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