Medtronic PLC's latest quarterly profit more than doubled as it moved further out of the shadow of the pandemic-driven downturn this spring.
The medical-device maker, run out of Fridley but legally based in Dublin, Ireland, said Thursday it earned just over $2 billion in the three months ended April 30, about 2½ times what it made in the same period a year ago when the pandemic forced hospitals to call off elective procedures and scale back purchases of surgical equipment.
That profit amounted to $1.50 a share and came on revenue of $8.2 billion, numbers that beat analysts' expectations slightly.
The February-through-April period wrapped up Medtronic's fiscal year and, despite the pandemic, the company wound up with a 4% gain in sales compared with a year ago.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha credited the company's strong financial position going into the pandemic and its continued investment in its product pipeline with powering its recovery as the pandemic winds down.
Martha also pointed to a "new culture called the Medtronic mind-set to raise expectations."
"We measure morale," Martha said. "Our employee scores are the highest we've ever had. People say we are not being competitive enough."
A "new energy" has accompanied those employees who have been able to return to their normal rounds. "People have been nesting at home," Martha said. As more Medtronic employees make their way back, he added, that energy can move through the workforce.
Despite sales gains, the pandemic took a toll on Medtronic's fiscal year bottom line. Non-GAAP earnings came to $6 billion, or $4.44 a diluted share, both decreases of 3%. So there is a ways to go.
Martha and Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill look to "continued momentum" in business growth to get there.
Business grew in each of the three months of the fourth quarter. Elective surgeries that use Medtronic devices should make a comeback as the pandemic fades. Martha said the launch of new products and changes to the company's operating model positioned Medtronic to "drive accelerated revenue growth in the year ahead and over the long term."
He also said the company "is nearing a full recovery" from the pandemic. One of the signs of the emergence from pandemic uncertainty was Medtronic's decision to offer financial guidance for the first time since COVID-19 locked down the economy. The company expects 9% revenue growth in fiscal 2022.
Fiscal year earnings per share should rise to $5.60 to $5.75 per share, starting with a per-share profit of around $1.31 to $1.34 for the fiscal first quarter that has just started, Parkhill told analysts and investors on an earnings call.
Medtronic shares closed Thursday at $124.48, down 1.4% for the day.
The company will spend more on research and development in the coming year than any in its history, investing heavily in surgical robotics and renal denervation, Martha told analysts. It made acquisitions of $1.2 billion in 2021 and will likely make purchases that exceed that number next year.
Medtronic continues to struggle for market share in one of its designated growth targets, the diabetes market. Revenue growth for diabetes products in fiscal 2022 is projected at 3% to 4%.
The approval of two diabetes devices in Europe portends an increase in sales, but it also helps set the stage for U.S. approval, which often takes longer than Europe.
"We expect [the] diabetes [business] to grow above the company average," Parkhill said.
Inflation that may result from attempts to support the economy during the pandemic are manageable, Parkhill added.
Geopolitical problems with China, where Medtronic holds big market shares in device sales and medical training, also should not be a problem, Martha said.
"We're in close contact with the Biden administration," he said. "Health care tends to rise above geopolitical tensions."