Well, Boston Scientific
I've often argued that Boston Scientific had to do something to build for the future, and this quarter highlights the reasons why. Revenue fell 4%, margins worsened, operating income dropped 8%, and net income (after adjusting for charges and items) fell 19%. While management and employees at Boston Scientific may talk tough about their competitive strengths, these "growth" numbers don't lie.
The inclusion of Guidant will doubtlessly make a big difference to the company. It will provide cardiac rhythm management and other new growth platforms. Even with the sale of Guidant's vascular business to Abbott, the purchase should also give Boston Scientific access to technology that can strengthen its drug-coated stent products.
But Guidant will need fixing. Clumsy handling of product defects and recalls has hurt the company at the bottom line and in the eyes of many physicians. What's more, all the product safety issues and acquisition rigmarole have likely been a drain on employee morale. I'm just not sure that Boston Scientific is up to the job of fixing Guidant right away.
Wonder why I'm skeptical here? Look no further than the corporate warning letter that the FDA recently sent to Boston Scientific. This is a rare event (only the third one ever issued, to my knowledge) and it indicates some systemic problems with the company.
Boston Scientific risks restrictions on new product approvals and introductions if it doesn't clear up this matter. In my mind, the letter also suggests a deficiency in the company's management. If you can't run your own smaller business without running afoul of the FDA, how are you going to handle a large acquisition that comes in with its own regulatory issues?
Maybe I'm too hard on Boston Scientific. Maybe it'll figure it all out. I'm more than willing to admit personal bias here -- I don't like this company very much, and I never have, even in my days as a sell-side analyst. But value is value, and if the company proves it can handle the considerable challenges ahead, this could ultimately be a very interesting stock 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).