Shares of Dutch electronics and medical devices giant Royal Philips (NYSE:PHG) rose 39% in 2019, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The company experienced more ups than downs in a tumultuous year.
The stock drifted upward throughout the year with a couple of notable jumps and drops along the way. The company posted a strong second-quarter earnings report in July. Comparable sales rose 6% year over year, lifted by strong shipments of hospital equipment into the Chinese, German, and American markets. Revenues also rose by double-digit percentages in Russia and Central Europe. Share prices surged 6% higher that day.
Comparable sales stayed strong in the third quarter, but the performance was based on a different mix of underlying growth drivers. This time, American sales came up short while Chinese revenues remained in double-digit growth territory. However, the order flow tightened up and forced Philips to reduce its fourth-quarter revenue goal.
One might think that Philips would tiptoe around the Chinese-American trade tariffs, but that's not the case. The company routinely refers to "tariff headwinds" in recent reports, including the disappointing order collection in the third quarter.
The company actually manufactures a lot of its big-ticket medical devices in the U.S., shipping them all over the world from hubs in places like Kentucky, Texas, and Florida. That's how Chinese buyers get their hands on Philips equipment, apart from a small manufacturing plant in China that handles some consumer-level products such as household appliances and personal care products.
Looking ahead, Philips is aiming for a position of leadership in the market for connected health devices -- an effort that combines the company's current healthcare focus with its decades of consumer electronics expertise.
"Frankly speaking, we strongly believe we are on the right path to bring monitoring and analytics into other care settings, to enable telehealth and ambulatory care, to connect patients outside of the hospital to caregivers," CEO Frans van Houten said in Philips' third-quarter earnings call.