Any sci-fi fan worth his or her salt knows all about the wonders of suspended animation. Unfortunately, the real-life corporate version is not quite so much fun. I'm speaking here of aesthetics and urology company Mentor
Look at Mentor's third-quarter report, and you'll see that sales went pretty much nowhere in the period. Growth was mostly sluggish across the board -- sales were flat in the aesthetics business, down 3% in the urology business, and up 4% in the clinical/consumer business.
In terms of profitability, Mentor's performance depends on whether you go along with the company's treatment of certain items. While gross margin improved slightly (and that looks like a clean number), there were expenses this quarter that the company attributes to strategic initiatives. If you exclude these items, earnings were basically flat on a year-over-year basis. If you include them, operating income fell 19% and GAAP earnings per share were about one-quarter lower.
Investors hoping that Mentor would be kicking up its growth any time soon found themselves doused with some cold water. The company is still in discussions with the Food and Drug Administration on the approval of a silicone breast implant, and it's anybody's guess as to when this finally gets ironed out. The FDA is understandably worried about the safety ramifications of this product, and the company needs to offer up a credible approach for post-approval safety monitoring and tracking. It's just one Fool's guess, but I wouldn't expect much to happen in the near term.
In other news, the company seems to be having data problems with a study of its Puragen Plus dermal filler, and that's going to indefinitely delay a filing with the FDA. What's more, management has dropped its pursuit of Medicis
Assuming that the company can sell its urology business (and management seems optimistic there), Mentor will probably look for more acquisitions to grow the aesthetics business. It certainly needs to do something; just standing in place is not going to build much shareholder value, and I don't think the introduction of silicone breast implants is going to be a transformative act. If management can close the right deals, maybe this company will snap-to and get a little more interesting again.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).