The world's leading medical technology company, Medtronic
The phrase "market share gains" once more peppered the earnings release. In business after business, Medtronic is not just growing, it is stealing market share from competitors.
Drilling down, the Cardiac and Spinal businesses, which account for 60% of sales, grew revenue by 25%. Of significance, 75% of those sales were for products introduced in the last 2 1/4 years. Much like 3M
Another potential growth driver is the drug-coated coronary stent currently in Phase III trials. For context, Johnson & Johnson's
And make no mistake, Medtronic is a money machine. Gross profit margins, hurt by currency translations and lower margins in the Spinal Business, were nonetheless 75.1% -- the high range of company estimates. For quality of earnings buffs, Days of Outstanding Sales in Receivables dropped by four days, while Weeks of Inventory fell by one whole week.
This money machine is on a roll. Medtronic has treated investors to nine straight quarters of double-digit earnings and revenue growth -- and profit margins are slightly over 20%.
Is there anything not to like?
Management's 5-year goal is 15% compounded growth in annual revenue and earnings. Based on full-year 2004 earnings guidance of $1.63, the stock trades at 27-times forward earnings -- somewhat rich for 15% expected annual growth. Then again, 32 times trailing earnings is slightly below the S&P 500's 35 times multiple.
Despite the ample valuation, the company is wrapping up a 25 million-share repurchase and announced a new 30 million-share plan. The company might consider better using its cash to reduce its $2.4 billion of total debt and make acquisitions that are both accretive and meet the 15% compounded annual growth goal.
On the balance, however, Medtronic offers investors consistent growth, and at today's prices, the stock is reasonably valued. Medtronic also offers peace of mind -- every seven seconds, Medtronic saves or improves someone's life with one of its products or therapies.
W.D. Crotty owns Medtronic and can be reached at email@example.com .