A recent survey of nurses across the U.S. conducted by National Nurses United shows that hospitals are behind the curve in educating healthcare professionals on Ebola. That may sound scary, but following the diagnosis of cases in the U.S., rest assured that hospitals are going to become far more proactive in the coming months.
If so, healthcare providers will increase education for healthcare workers on Ebola symptoms, which can be hard to diagnose in the early stages of the disease because symptoms such as red eyes and rash are common in far more commonly occurring diseases, boost the use rapid and repeat testing for at-risk patients, and more widely use disposable, preventative medical clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns, and goggles made by Kimberly Clark's (NYSE:KMB) soon to be spun off Halyard Health.
First, a bit of background
Kimberly's Halyard Health business markets a wide range of gloves, protective apparel, facial and respiratory protection, and machines for the dispensing and disposal of personal protective equipment.
Halyard sells more than $1.6 billion worth of these and other healthcare items, such as surgical solutions, worldwide and Kimberly plans for Halyard's spin-off to occur later this month.
In the past year, weaker demand for medical gloves in Asia was offset by stronger demand for medical devices in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, leading to Halyard Health's sales totaling $794 million through the first six months of this year, essentially unchanged from 2013.
However, Halyard's sales could start growing again if concerns over Ebola infection in the U.S. and Europe prompt healthcare providers to increase their use of protective apparel. If so, a restructuring that has boosted Halyard's profitability by 37.8% through the first six months of this year may position the company to deliver more of those sales to the bottom line.
Detailing the spin-off
As part of a broader review of its operations, Kimberly's board voted to approve a tax-free spin-off of Halyard Health last November.
In preparation for the spin-off, Kimberly has shuttered a medical glove manufacturing facility in Thailand, and reduced marketing, research, and general spending. As a result, Halyard's profit increased to $63 million in the second quarter, up 17% from last year.
Kimberly announced that Halyard Health will begin normal trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 3 under the symbol "HYH." Kimberly Clark shareholders as of the close of trading on Oct. 23 will receive one share of Halyard for every eight shares owned of Kimberly Clark.
Kimberly's cash hoard will get bigger following the spin-off, so Kimberly is upping its share buyback target from between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion to $2 billion for 2014.
But that's not the only reason to like Kimberly. The company is an S&P Dividend Aristocrat that has boosted its dividend every year since 1973. After increasing its dividend payout by 3.7% earlier this year, Kimberly's dividend yield remains a respectable 3.1% and there should be plenty of room for additional dividend increases. The company's cash dividend payout ratio, a measure of common dividends divided by operating cash flow minus capital expenditures and preferred dividends is just 56%, which is lower than dividend stalwarts Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and AT&T (NYSE:T).
For its part, Halyard says it has no plans for a dividend and will spend most of its cash flow on expanding its business and researching new products. Those investments will be necessary given that Halyard faces stiff competition from private label brands offered by distributors Cardinal Health (NYSE:CAH) and Medline.
Regardless, Halyard has market leading market share with well-known brands including Kimguard and Fluidshield that should allow it to successfully compete in this $7 billion market, particularly if the current Ebola outbreak increases demand for infection protection supplies. That may suggest that investors buying Kimberly Clark in order to get shares in Halyard may want to keep both of these companies in portfolios.
Todd Campbell has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd owns E.B. Capital Markets, LLC. E.B. Capital's clients may or may not have positions in the companies mentioned. Todd owns Gundalow Advisors, LLC. Gundalow's clients do not have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola and Kimberly Clark. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.