This article is a Medtronic Stock Analysis in which I aim to answer some of the following questions:
- How does the company currently perform?
- Are the dividends safe?
- What is the fair value of the stock?
Enjoy the read!
History of the company
Medtronic ($MDT) has been founded by Earl Bakken in 1949 literally from his garage by fixing up medical equipment. Later in 1957 the company became really established when it was the first company to sell a battery-operated external pacemaker to patients in need.
A brief overview of Medtronic’s history that explains the history in ~2 minutes has been published by the company themselves on YouTube. I suggest to have a watch at it if you want to understand their history a bit more:
Medtronic Stock Analysis: Story of the stock
Medtronic’s mission has been written in 1960 and still stands:
“We are restoring people by the millions to full life. That helps people feel positive about their efforts”
I like the simplicity of it and it opens up many new potential markets in the ongoing future. Actually, there exists a more extended version of the mission, but that is already full of corporate language which I tend to ignore😉. But if you are interested, have a look here.
Market share & competition
Medtronic is a true global organization which operates in 150 locations. I took the below slide from their Q4 FY2019 results, because it gives a nice overview on some of their basic key company metrics.
Medtronic operates in the medical equipment and supplies industry and the company uses the following product segmentation (in order of revenue):
- Cardiac & Vascular Group (CVG) – This is what the company is known for, because this segment also entails pacemakers. This group represents everything to do with your heart and your blood system. i.e. aortic valve replacement systems.
- Minimally Invasive Therapies Group (MITG) – These are relatively straightforward, but very important products like staples, mesh and bronchoscopes, i.e. vessel sealing products
- Restorative Therapies Group (RTG) – neurovascular, surgery, spine, and neuromodulation. These are moderately or maximum invasive therapies, i.e. robotic guidance systems for brain surgery
- Diabetes (DIAB) – products that deal with diabetes care, i.e. insulin pumps
In fiscal 2019, Medtronic sold for $30.6 billion of products and services and the sales distribution from those four segments is the following:
- Cardiac & vascular group: 37% – $11.5 bln
- Minimally invasive therapies group: 28% – $8.5 bln
- Restorative therapies group: 27% – $8.2 bln
- Diabetes: 8% – $2.4 bln
When zooming in into some of the sub-industries that Medtronic is operating in, then it is also clear that in many of those industries they are the main company to beat. They are for instance the market leader in Cardiac Rhythm Management, Diabetes Care, Cardiovascular and Neuromodulation.
This is really impressive for a company the size of Medtronics! Some of the market leading positions, i.e. diabetes care, are just from the last years. In my opinion the company has been firing on all cylinders in the last decade.
Medtronics is looking at the emerging market as a secular growth trend and I would agree with that. I just looked into the data from the World Health Organization and it’s clear to me that the current health expenditure per capita is rapidly increasing in for instance South-East Asia (i.e. China).
It literally doubled in the last decade and that is a strong tailwind for Medtronics.
At the same time I believe that the aging population is another strong tailwind for Medtronics. The percentage of people that are older than 65 will continue to grow in the next few decades to come, especially also in Western societies like the US. The elder will need more care, especially as diseases become more and more complex.
On another note, the pipeline from Medtronics is quite impressive to me! This is a true example of a company that keeps investing in R&D. In the last 5 years they invested approximately 16 billion USD back into new products & services to keep beefing up their pipeline. This should generate enough cash with a company target of 13% ROIC.
In these times it is of utmost important to also assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as part of this Medtronic stock analysis. The current impact as defined in Medtronic’s Q3 FY20 earnings report (18-Feb) is the following:
- The company indicated that it is comfortable with current Street consensus calling for fourth quarter organic revenue growth of approximately 4.5 percent and EPS of $1.64, excluding any impact from COVID-19. If current exchange rates hold, fourth quarter revenue growth would be negatively affected by 0.8 to 1.4 percent.
- While COVID-19 is expected to negatively affect the company’s fourth quarter financial results, the situation is fluid, and the duration and magnitude of the impact are difficult to quantify at this time. The company continues to monitor and assess business impact daily and will provide an update laterin the quarter.
Source: Q3 FY20 Earnings Release
Earnings Call Transcript info
Also have a look at the following Q&A during the Q3 FY20 earnings call:
Analyst: Hi. Thanks for taking the question. So I just have one on coronavirus and one on sort of the Symplicity Spyral timeline and post the data at ACC. So on corona, I understand it’s a little bit early to put a finer point on the impact for Q4, but if you could maybe give us some sense of what the major moving parts are.
I think we have about $2 billion in China revenue round numbers, an approximately kind of an annual run rate there. Obviously, it’s a moving target, but things like — would an impact in Q4 likely, based on what you know now, sort of come back in early Q — how transitory is that impact? And then on Spyral, just maybe walk through for us the timeline of what happens after off med and what that looks like as you continue to develop that program.
Omar Ishrak — Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
OK. Let me take the coronavirus question first. First of all, we’re pretty clear about what our China business is. It’s roughly 7% of our global business, so you can do the estimate there.
The variables right now — one variable is that we’ve got to get our factories up and running so that we can supply different places in the world including China, and that is actually progressing well. But the main factor driving the number there will be the procedure uptake in China. China was in a complete shutdown mode for the first half of February, and they’re just beginning to start. And even now, even in places like Beijing and others, procedures are only just beginning.
It’s too early to tell how they will ramp up through the rest of the quarter. We know that in Hubei province, for example, obviously, it shut down, but that’s only 5% of China. But the rest of China, in places like Beijing and Shanghai, right now, there are procedure delays. In addition to that, a lot of physicians are being asked to actually go and help with the virus.
And so there are many dynamics here that are really difficult to predict now. Once things stabilize, there could well be a ramp back up. And because people need the procedures, they will get them at some point. When that happens is very difficult to predict right now.
So that’s why we’re saying that wait until a little later in the quarter when we have some more data and see how things progress and we’ll give you a full update. So with that, I’m going to ask Mike to take the renal.
Source: Q3 FY20 earnings call transcript
On 18 March, Medtronic also released a press release regarding the production of ventilators to support patients and healthcare providers in need:
- Medtronic … continues to make progress in increasing ventilator production worldwide. The company has increased production by more than 40 percent to date and is on track to more than double its capacity to manufacture and supply ventilators in response to the urgent needs of patients and healthcare systems across the globe confronting COVID-19.
Source: press release Medtronic Continuing to Increase Ventilator Production to Address COVID-19 Pandemic
So, from one side we know that earnings will be impacted, but it isn’t clear yet by how much. The good thing is that Medtronic mentioned in their Q3 FY20 earnings call that some factories are getting back up again in several locations.
The most interesting part for me here is that physicians in China are being re-allocated to help fighting the virus. I expect this to happen in other countries with a strong impact like Italy and the US as well. This effectively means that healthcare professionals won’t be able to treat patients that need for instance a pacemaker as long as its not urgent. I’m assuming this, because governer Cuomo yesterday also mentioned in his press conference that all non-essential surgeries will be postponed.
On the other side we can expect an uptake in ventilator sales. It’s just a question how much gross profit they make on such equipment and I don’t assume that it will cover the decline in other areas impacted by COVID-19.
All in all, we need to take a conservative approach here regarding it’s earnings power in the upcoming quarters, but the secular long-term tailwinds for Medtronic seem strong!
Besides having excellent products, strong long-term growth prospects and short-term COVID-19 impact, it is also important for me that they show a shareholder friendly approach. So how have they rewarded shareholders over the last few years?
Medtronic grew its revenue from $28.8 bln in 2016 to $31 bln based on Trailing Twelve Months (TTM) numbers which is a growth of approx 7,5% over the last 4,5 years. It’s not something special I would say. It’s worth noting though that their revenue increased with $8 bln between 2015 and 2016 due to the $42.9 bln Covidien acquisition.
Full-year FY20 company EPS guidance has recently been increased to a range $5.63 to $5.65 and the company feels comfortable with a 4% sales year-over-year sales increase, excluding currency impact (could turn yoy sales into negative). These numbers were excluding possible COVID-19 impact.
Their gross profit margin % has been relatively stable over the last 5 years. I don’t expect any noteworthy changes there in the upcoming years under normal circumstances.
Capital Allocation approach
Medtronic’s strategy is to reinvest approximately 50% back into the business via pipeline investments and Mergers & Acquisitions. The other 50% is reserved for shareholder distribution via dividend growth and share repurchases. The below slide sums it up well.
I personally find this a very balanced approach, because it ensures most and for all a strengthening business which can reward shareholders in a sustainable manner in the long-term. A target payout-ratio of 40% is an example of that, because it leaves ample room for reinvestment into the business.
Summary story of the stock
As you can see, I became even more enthusiastic after diving deeper into their products and their position within the industry even though I do expect short-term headwinds. Also their contribution to COVID-19 with a 40% increase in ventilator production is something that I believe will do them well in the long term (i.e. brand exposure).
Having said that, they have a strong innovation pipeline supported by 2 major tailwinds and they are likely to weather the upcoming economic recession pretty well due to the nature of their business. For me Medtronics seems to be an excellent company 💪
The question now remains is: is it also an excellent stock to own?
Let’s check that via assessing their financial quality, Management Quality and Dividend Quality.
Medtronic Stock Analysis: Financial Quality
Financial quality to me in simple terms means whether Medtronic has a sound balance sheet and whether they can easily cover their interest payments. At the same time I prefer to see a reliable stable cash-flow growth.
Let’s have a look at their balance sheet first. I am using their Q3 FY20 statements for it.
Their debt/equity ratio is ~48% (24.7 BLN / 51.8 BLN), which is good ratio. because it means that they are financing at least half of its growth using equity rather than leverage. (ideally < 50%).
Their Interest Coverage is 4.12 which is a good sign (ideally > 3). Effectively it means that Medtronics has enough quarterly income to cover their interest expenses.
Their Quick Ratio is 2.05. Which is good. I consider this an important ratio during this economic crisis, because it indicates us as investors whether Medtronic has the capacity to pay its current liabilities without needing to sell its inventory or get additional financing.
All three metrics tell me that they have a very sound balance sheet in the liabilities and equity section (right-side balance sheet) which should prevent them getting straight-away in financial trouble when they would face some headwinds.
What I do want to pay your attention to is that ~43% of their assets (left-side balance sheet) is consumed by goodwill (40 BLN / 92.8 BLN) of which 29.6 BLN was added after the Covidien Acquisition in 2015.
<< start rant >> 😠
Let me start ranting here a bit, because this really annoys me and is an out-in-the-open example of “financial engineering” which I see very often and something that in our community is often overlooked.
Goodwill on the balance sheet effectively means that management has paid more than fair value for a company that they purchased. They can’t cover the overpayment in other items in the asset section on the balance sheet so they move it in the Goodwill section. In many balance sheets, goodwill can be better replaced by “Management opportunism”, because management often claims that an acquisition creates “synergies”. Off course, this might be true, but I got used to be skeptical about such claims.
Why it bothers me is actually quite simple. Companies very often write down on this post when the accountants really can’t justify keeping it on that level anymore. You can imagine that a board of directors doesn’t like to write down on it, because it means a depreciation of their enterprise value and it’s most of the times really a result of their own past (poor) decisions. I can also bet to you that when it happens (not if) that it will be kept out of the non-GAAP EPS numbers as an irregular expense.
They will argue that it is the best to do, because it allows easier year-over-year comparison. Well, I leave the judgement up to you and the only advice I want to give you is to always quickly check the balance sheets, especially for the items of goodwill and pension liabilities. They have brought many investors into trouble while the signs where clearly visible in the balance sheet. i.e. UPS’s pension liabilities are enormous!
If you are interested and as an example, read this news article about General Electric.
<< stop rant >> 😌
Having said that, let’s keep the huge balance sheet size of Goodwill into our minds. It might be a totally fair assessment from the accountants, but let’s stay skeptical and consider this at least an “amber” flag.
Let’s also briefly look at their past free-cash-flow (FCF) growth. Over the last 5 years the gross FCF has been growing an an annualized basis with ~9% which is very good! However, the FCF per share has declined sustainably with ~18% compared to 5 years ago due to a ~30% share dilution as part of the Covidien acquisition. It will take some time again for the company to recover to the pre-merger numbers.
FCF growth is important for me, because it ensures the ability to continue growing future dividends. Let’s consider this an “amber” flag as well.
Finally I am also looking at the credit score from the credit rating agencies to cross-check my analysis. Moody’s gave Medtronic an A3 rating which is again pretty good.
All in all, Medtronic seems to have a strong balance sheet on the right-side, but it covers assets which are mainly intangible due to the amount of goodwill after the Covidien acquisition. Free Cash Flow growth has been impacted by it as well. To me this gives me a little bit of a mixed-bag feeling.
Medtronic Stock Analysis: Dividend Quality
So let’s talk about the dividend quality now. Dividend Safety is very important to me and effectively I only need to answer the following question: is the dividend safe and can the company keep growing dividends?
This is why I analyze the quality of the dividend. Dividend quality in simple terms means for me a good starting yield, combined with solid dividend growth and a payout ratio which is healthy and should prevent a dividend to be cut when facing headwinds.
Starting Dividend Yield
Medtronic currently pays a quarterly dividend of $0.54 per quarter ($2.16 annualized) which currently spots a ~3% dividend yield (share price $72.92). Last year the annualized dividend was $2.00, so it grew with 8%. If all goes well then we can expect a dividend increase again in June.
Dividend Policy & Dividend History
I have not found a clear dividend policy written down in their investor relations section on the website, but I think it’s safe to say that management intends to continuously grow the dividend. This is exactly what they have been doing since 1977, because the dividend has been growing for the last 42 years!
The dividend growth over the last 5 years has been good with 7.28% annualized and over its 42 history was ~17%. I like that, but in the picture above you can easily see that in the last 5 years it was mainly a reason due to increasing the payout ratio (div/eps). This aligns with the earlier observation of stagnant FCF per share growth (18% down).
The EPS payout ratio is 53.8% and the FCF payout ratio is 60.3%. Both payout ratios are good, because ideally I prefer to see a payout ratio below 60%. However, the growth should now come from future FCF per share and EPS growth, not from payout growth.
The FCF Trailing Twelve Months (TTM) numbers indicate that it’s growing decently so I do expect that this will provide further dividend growth opportunities in the upcoming years.
I believe that the dividend is safe for the upcoming few years even if FCF per share would remain relatively the same or decline due to Covid-19 impact, because of the positive long-term growth prospects and a very manageable debt.
I do however believe that we may need to anticipate on lower digit dividend growth compared to the past in case management is not able to improve execution on its key financial metrics (EPS/FCF).
As (future) shareholders we put a lot of faith in the decision makers of Medtronic Therefore I find it important to understand them a bit as well, because their quality and trustworthiness is important in the direction of the company.
Since June 2011, Medtronic is headed by Omar S. Ishrak. Mr Ishrak joined Medtronic from GE Healthcare, currently still the flagship division within General Electric. Mr Ishrak’s biography can be found on Medtronic’s website.
It is worth noting though that he is retiring by the end of April this year. Medtronic named Geoff Martha, currently leader of the company’s restorative therapies group, as Ishrak’s successor. His bio can also be found here. He is working with Medtronic since 2011 and he also joined from GE Healthcare. He even spend some time in the infamous GE Capital division. For sure he will have a lot of lessons learnt in his backpack from that time, but I do hope that he doesn’t bring the GE Financial Engineering practices with him 😉
Having said that, I couldn’t really develop an understanding about him as a person other than the below video. I personally will need to observe more from him in the upcoming quarters as he starts to really drive the strategic decisions which may impact either positively or negatively in the years to come.
While it’s good to get a feeling about the CEO, I also find it important to look at the hard facts by checking out the US violation tracker.
It’s almost impossible to find a global company without any violations. Therefore I tend to more look at the competitive landscape and from there it’s clear that Medtronic as a company has some room for improvement as a corporate citizen, but it neither the worst “violator”. 75% of their fines is based on the false claims act.
Acquisition track record
Last but not least, looking at recent acquisitions and then especially the Covidien acquisition then I think that it really increased Medtronic’s product offering to improve patients life. However, I do want to challenge under which conditions it was purchased. Due to my earlier arguments, I am convinced that they overpaid quite a bit, because 5 years later they still haven’t recovered from a FCF per share point of view.
On another note, 5 years later there is still a shareholder lawsuit going on, because shareholders feel that the technical construction chosen by the board of directors was not in the best interest of the shareholders. I strongly hope that they will do better next time!
To sum it up: I didn’t really got impressed by their board of directors so far and I want to see more from the new CEO before really drawing a conclusion. However, like good old W. Buffett said one time:
“I try to invest in businesses that are so wonderful that an idiot can run them. Because sooner or later, one will.” – Warren Buffett
I am slowly coming to the conclusion that Medtronic is a wonderful business, but let’s see what label we can stick on management one year from now 😜
Medtronic Stock Analysis: Valuation
Now that we have some insights in the company and its financial performance, let’s check if the stock is fairly valued compared to its current stock price of $72.92 per share. This is probably the most important part that you have been curious about within this Medtronic stock analysis 💪.
In simple terms, I like to look at the valuation from different angles. The first one is the Price to Earnings and the Free Cash Flow to earnings ratios. These typically give good rule-of-thumb indicators.
Price to Earnings / Cash Flow
- The current Price to Earnings is 18.50
- The current Price to Cash Flow is 20.3
To me this tells me that the shares are still on the “expensive” side even though the shares dropped recently by ~40%. I tend to not buy stocks that are having a multiple > 20, so this is just on the border for me.
Multiple comparison with S&P 500
Another way to look at these valuation multiples is to compare it with the S&P 500, which currently spots a 16.48 PE Ratio. This means that the market pays a slight premium for Medtronic compared to the broader market.
Dividend Discount Model valuation
When inserting the variables into my dividend discount model calculation, then the fair price is indicated to be $77.14. I assumed a 6% growth rate in dividends going forward and a 8.8% discount rate.
|Dividend per share
|Dividend growth rate
Discounted Cash Flow valuation
A discounted cash flow (DCF) calculation is a bit more difficult to perform and has a higher sensitivity in output based on the variables. But based on my analysis and taking the Q3 FY20 results into consideration, I believe that the fair value for Medtronic is $70.82 based on the DCF.
My Fair Value calculation
Looking at both the DDM calculation and the DCF calculation, then the average of the two would result in a fair value of:
The above DCF & DDM calculations don’t yet take a margin-of-safety in consideration. For a high quality company like Medtronic I would usually follow the advice of uncle Warren Buffett to pay a fair price for a high quality company.
However, due to the past Covidien acquisition and the aforementioned 2 “amber” flags I will personally take a 15% margin-of-safety into consideration when I am building this out into a full position in my portfolio.
That would make my ideal purchase price for the stock $62.90.
This means that I am effectively saying that in my opinion Medtronic is still not cheap after the recent 40% drop and it excludes a Covid-19 impact simulation. Having said that, I might start accumulating few shares already under $74 but it won’t be more than 25% of my target position size. From there I will likely dollar-cost-average further if the stock price reaches a low 60-number.
Medtronic Stock Analysis: Risks
Before closing out, I would also like to highlight some of the current risks that I consider when owning Medtronic.
Risk 1️⃣ – COVID-19
Surprise 🤭 First of all I consider the loss of sales due to COVID-19 as the biggest risk. We don’t know yet how long it will take before society can get back to normal life again. As an example, the Netherlands is forbidding group gathering until the 1st of June. That’s still more than 2 months away from now and there is a high probability that these rules get extended as long as vaccination and cures are not available to the population yet. Likelihood: high – Impact: medium
Risk 2️⃣ – Government intervention
Second, the US government orders healthcare manufacturers to dedicate their supply chain for production purposes that support fighting the COVID-19 outbreak. This would mean a reallocation of resources without a lot of influence and might negatively impact Medtronic’s earnings.
Likelihood: medium – Impact: medium
Risk 3️⃣ – Goodwill write-off
Third, some of the amount of goodwill on the balance sheet might need to be written off if cash flow numbers don’t significantly improve in the upcoming years. A big write-off may trigger convenants from borrowers to increase the equity stake in the company.
Likelihood: low – Impact: medium
Risk 4️⃣ – Patient safety issues
Fourth, patient safety issues arise because of the usage of one of Medtronic’s products or services. This might result in lawsuits and fines / settlements. This happens more often and can be considered regular business, but I am talking about a very large and impactful event.
Likelihood: very low – Impact: high
Last but not least, it might be worth having a look at the risks that Medtronic identified themselves in their FY19 annual report (page 9).
This was a really interesting Medtronic stock analysis. I truly believe that Medtronic is a remarkable company 💪 Their products are often life-saving and just think for a second about the impact that the battery driven external pacemaker had on the overall health of people in the world. Many grandparents have been saved with such a device to see their grandchildren grow up. I believe that most entrepreneurs often can only dream about making such an impact to the world.
Such a wonderful company doesn’t make it necesarily a great stock as well. Yes, there are some findings on the balance sheet and with the cashflow but those are mainly driven by one really big decision: the financial conditions and expectations as part of the Covidien aqcuisition. The new CEO will need to proof himself going forward and I will keep a close eye on the impact of his first decisions when being truly at the helm.
Having said that, let’s answer the title of this blog post:
Can it keep the historical dividend growth trend?
I believe it can’t and I expect the dividend growth in the upcoming 5 years to be rather in the low-single digits (i.e. 4-5%) unless the company steps up and start to grow their FCF per share at a high single-digit rate or above. Some strong sales from new pipeline innovations will need to drive that. This envisioned growth rate is OK for me for the upcoming few years as long as the company keeps innovating and focuses on growing their FCF per share first.
Having said that, it stays a Tier-2 stock for me, because if I am really critical then I will always find something that avoids me to buy some stock of a company. The critical thinking & risk management just keeps me focused and I have learnt that it provides me the right fail-save mechanism to avoid stupid investment decisions (which I am sure about that I will continue making 😎).
I hope that you enjoyed this Medtronic stock analysis article! What are your thoughts about Medtronic? Do you own it? Do you want to own it?
To keep improving this blog, I would like to ask for some feedback 🙏. Could I get 5 seconds of your time to answer the following question for me:
I own NYSE:MDT. I am likely to add some more shares to my position at these prices as long as it doesn’t become bigger than 25% of my envisioned position size. To increase that stake, I would like to have a better margin of safety first.
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With best Regards,
— European Dividend Growth Investor