Boston Scientific appears to turn a corner as sales growth gains momentum

Boston Scientific CEO Mike Mahoney

Boston Scientific ($BSX) has been known more in recent years for its struggles rather than its successes. But after years of slashing jobs, reorganizing, and diversifying through a number of acquisitions, the Massachusetts device giant appears to be accelerating a turnaround following glimmers of improvement last year.

Boston Scientific booked more than $1.84 billion during its 2013 fourth quarter, a 1% hike over the 2012 fourth quarter, noteworthy after years of stagnant or declining revenue. Net income hit $108 million, a big jump over the $60 million in net income booked during the same period a year ago, though restructuring, M&A and legal expenses took a chunk out of income both times.

For the year, global net sales hit more than $7.1 billion, itself a 1% decline from 2012. And Boston Scientific lost $121 million in 2013, but that's a big improvement over the $4 billion loss in 2012, which was driven, in part, by one-time charges and expenses. Mike Mahoney, Boston Scientific's president and CEO, noted in a statement that Boston Scientific's Q4 represents steady improvement, quarter-over-quarter.

"This marks our third consecutive quarter of accelerated operational revenue growth," Mahoney said in a statement, "and we look forward to continued improvement of our annual sales and earnings performance in 2014."

Boston Scientific reported gains in many segments. Neuromodulation sales reached $138 million for the quarter, up nearly 33% over the $104 million booked during the same period in 2012. Endoscopy, urology/women's health, cardiac rhythm management and peripheral interventions also produced solid sales gains. Interventional cardiology sales, however, dropped 6% compared to the 2012 fourth quarter.

Boston Scientific said it also generated double-digit revenue growth in emerging markets, and anticipates further gains down the line from its acquisition of C.R. Bard's ($BCR) electrophysiology business, plus the FDA panel vote backing the approval of its Watchman left atrial appendage closure device. A CE mark for Boston Scientific's Lotus transcatheter aortic valve replacement device will also boost numbers, it said.

These improvements come three months after Boston Scientific announced another massive round of job cuts. The company disclosed plans last October to slash between 1,100 and 1,500 jobs beginning in Q4, despite its improved revenue situation.

Executives reported adjusted earnings per share for Q4 at 21 cents, beating the guidance range of 18 to 20 cents. GAAP earnings hit 8 cents per share, versus a guidance range of 4 to 8 cents.

Boston Scientific's guidance for 2014 reflects cautious optimism. Executives predict revenue for the year will hit between $7.3 billion and $7.5 billion, growing between 2% and 5%. GAAP net income should hit between 35 cents and 40 cents per share, according to the company's earnings guidance.

- read the earnings release

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