Despite COVID testing crash and stagnant base business, BD brightens 2023 outlook

Amid the standard roll call of earnings sheets released in recent weeks, nearly every diagnostics developer marked present has reported a severe drop-off in COVID-19 test sales for the fourth quarter of calendar year 2022.

That includes Siemens Healthineers, Abbott, Thermo Fisher and, most recently, BD, which hopped on the bandwagon Thursday by reporting a nearly 83% drop in its COVID-related revenues for the period—stylized as the first quarter of its fiscal 2023. That segment brought in a relatively measly $32 million for the quarter, barely one-sixth of the $185 million it earned for the same three months the year prior.

And while BD was expecting COVID test sales to dry up throughout the year, it seemingly didn’t think the drought would hit so soon. In its first-quarter earnings report (PDF) Thursday, the company was forced to slash its full-year forecast for those sales in half: Though it kicked off the year expecting COVID-only diagnostics to rake in between $125 million and $175 million throughout 2023—which would already have represented only a quarter of 2022’s $511 million take—that guidance has now been lowered to somewhere between $50 million and $100 million.

As was to be expected, the shrunken COVID sales tempered BD’s overall revenues. For the quarter, the company raked in a total of $4.6 billion, a year-over-year drop of 2.8%.

Even sans the suffocating effects of its COVID testing revenues, BD’s base business hardly fared much better. Leaving out that segment from the calculations resulted in revenue growth of less than half a percent compared to the same period the year prior.

But even that tiny amount of COVID-free growth was enough to buoy BD’s spirits. Despite cutting down on its COVID testing outlook by about $75 million at the midpoint, the company added $500 million to its overall predictions. Now, it’s expecting to take in between $19.1 billion and $19.3 billion across the company for all of 2023, up from the about $18.7 billion it initially forecast.

If the prognosis comes true, BD will have improved upon its 2022 revenues by around 1.6%—a modestly but undeniably better outcome than the previous forecast, which would’ve represented a 1% decrease from last year’s $18.9 billion total.

Though BD’s life sciences division—the home of its COVID diagnostics operations—took about a 12% hit for the quarter, its other two core businesses scraped out wins for the period. Its largest division, BD Medical, grew by 1.6% to more than $2.15 billion in revenues, while the interventional segment took in nearly $1.13 billion, a year-over-year increase of 1.3%.

The medical division—formerly the home of diabetes spinout Embecta—was the target of a major expansion project during the quarter: At the end of November, BD celebrated the opening of a $38.6 million facility in Tijuana, Mexico, that will manufacture medication management devices and is expected to create 500 new jobs within the first two years of its opening.