Medtronic looks ahead to new surgical robots, other tech after quarterly earnings report

Medtronic HQ
“In virtually every area that we have a procedural presence, we will look at robotics," Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told investors during a quarterly conference call. (Medtronic)

On the heels of a strong first quarter for its fiscal year, Medtronic aims to boost its growth with a suite of new products and projects in the near future in areas including surgical robotics, diabetes hardware and miniaturized pacemakers.

During a conference call with investors, CEO Omar Ishrak pointed to upcoming new generations of its MiniMed insulin pump and its leadless Micra transcatheter pacing system—as well as a new soft-tissue surgical robot the company plans to unveil to analysts at an event in late September with a live, preclinical demonstration of its abilities. 

That robot—expected to launch outside the U.S. first and within the next nine months of the company’s 2020 fiscal year—will follow up on the medtech giant’s integrated spine surgery system, which hit the stage in January after Medtronic’s acquisition of Mazor Robotics in 2018. Using both as a starting point, the company plans to bring computer-guided surgery and planning tools to other medical specialties over the next decade.  

“In virtually every area that we have a procedural presence, we will look at robotics," said Ishrak, starting with hardware designed for cranial procedures, such as lead placement for deep brain stimulation, the placement of EEGs and the resection of brain tumors. “Make no mistake, this is a core area for us,” he added.

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Medtronic’s executives also discussed the FDA’s recent expansion of approvals for its Evolut transcatheter aortic valve replacement systems to low-risk patients, a move they estimate expands the products’ potential market by about 50%. That could accelerate the growth they saw in the last quarter from 12% to somewhere in the mid-teens, they said.

In addition, the company plans to release the MiniMed 780G—a new version of its hybrid closed loop insulin pump system, featuring Bluetooth capability—in the second half of the fiscal year. 

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More broadly, for the quarter ending July 26, Medtronic brought in $7.49 billion in worldwide revenue, representing an increase of 1.5% after a $146 million loss due to foreign currency fluctuations. U.S. revenue made up 52% of that haul, with $3.92 billion. The total amounted to a net income of $1.70 billion, or a 6% increase.

The company also raised its guidance for the remainder of the fiscal year by 10 cents per share, while expecting about 4% growth.