Boston Scientific looks “very tempting,” Cramer said Friday, now that the company’s turned itself around and the stock’s under $9. It’s true that BSX has hurt investors before – Cramer will attest to that – but in-house changes, promising product releases and that cheap share price warrant at least some speculation on this name.
Boston Scientific , along with Medtronic and St. Jude Medical, operates in the medical-device industry, making implantable defibrillators, pacemakers and other products. The stock’s underperformed since 2006, when BSX overpaid for Guidant, but the recent fourth-quarter report seemed to indicate a turn for the better.
On Jan. 28, BSX delivered 21 cents a share, 8 cents more than the Street’s earnings estimates. The company took market share, regaining previously lost ground in drug-coated stents and possibly nudging Medtronic aside in implantable defibrillators. And management offered Q1 guidance of 15 cents to 20 cents a share, which was higher than analysts’ consensus of 14 cents.
There’s reason to believe the strong performance will continue. BSX restructured its asset portfolio, trimming 100 investments down to about 20, and used the $1.4 billion raised in the sale to pay down debt. In fact, the company has prepaid $2.2 billion in debt over the past 18 months, leaving $6.7 billion remaining, and the next debt maturity of $825 million won’t arrive until April 2010. Five plants will be closed over the next three years, and 4,300 jobs cut, further strengthening the balance sheet. The $100 million in cash flow the company generates every month won’t hurt either.
Another positive for Boston Scientific: It’s releasing a number of new products into the market. Six cardiac-rhythm devices hit the U.S. last year, and three more will arrive in Japan in 2009. And the cardiovascular and other divisions expect to launch three of their own in the States, and 12 overseas. This innovation should drive BSX’s revenue from new products to 38% in 2009, up from 26% in 2008.
And, like every good speculation play, Boston Scientific offers a catalyst to send the share price higher. A next-generation drug-releasing stent should soon be approved in the European Union, and launched there this year. Analysts sitting on the fence should fall to the sell side once this happens.
Two analysts upgraded Boston Scientific after that fourth-quarter beat, but still the stock is trading just about pre-report levels. Consider that a gift, Cramer said, especially when you factor in the estimated 5% to 7% sales growth and double-digit annual earnings growth over the next couple of years. BSX is a buy.
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