As exciting as hyper-growth companies can be, I happen to be more interested in taking profits from the market than in entertainment. Accordingly, investors should always be willing to at least consider "boring" companies like medical technology specialist Becton, Dickinson
Becton, Dickinson sells a variety of products ranging from reagent kits and cell sorters to blood culturing systems to needles, diabetes products, and infusion products. Granted, none of this stuff is terribly exciting, but the company has a long record of growth, from the low to high single digits, and the stock has done fairly well over time.
In the company's second quarter, revenue grew about 8.9% to $1.37 billion. The company saw a slight improvement in its margins and operating income climbed about 11% over the prior year.
While U.S. sales grew only 3%, hurt by a major distributor's decision to reduce inventory levels, overseas sales climbed about 14% (9% net of foreign-exchange benefit). Foreign sales were especially strong in diagnostics (Japan had a bad flu season), as well as in pharmaceutical systems sales like IV infusion systems and safety needles.
Domestically, Becton, Dickinson saw good growth in its immunocytometry business and in its diabetes care segment, where it sells a variety of lancets, syringes, and glucose monitoring supplies. What's more, the company also has a relationship with Medtronic
It's admittedly hard to drum up a lot of "rah-rah" enthusiasm for such a steady-eddie like Becton, Dickinson. The company's growth is consistent but somewhat slow; dividend payout is OK but not great; returns on capital are good but not eye-popping. What's more, valuation isn't all that high, but neither is it at a historical bargain level. Nevertheless, the stock has a good track record, and long-term investors probably aren't too bothered by the company's "boring" attributes.
It's possible to find dependable health-care companies that have more growth in the story -- names like Johnson & Johnson
I favor names with a little more sizzle, but investors looking for a stable and dependable company with broad exposure to the medical industry should take a look for themselves at Becton, Dickinson.
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