Stryker Chairman and CEO Kevin Lobo addressed several key trends for the company over the next few months and year during the first quarter conference call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
1. April sales will be down 35 percent to 40 percent year over year, but Mr. Lobo said the next few months could be better. "Looking at the remainder of the quarter, we are encouraged by the planned gradual resumption of elective surgeries in the U.S. and abroad. Portfolio products are being impacted by COVID-19 in numerous ways. Clearly, we are seeing a deferral in elective procedures, particularly within our orthopedics and spine businesses. We fully expect, given the chronic and progressive nature of the conditions impacting these patients, patients, that the vast majority of them will be treated in the coming months."
2. The company is supporting its sales force and continuing to invest in a new pipeline of products to prepare for surgeries to ramp up again. It is also moving forward with its Wright Medical integration efforts. "Given the impact of the virus on competitive hiring, we are expecting a minimal level of sales force attrition," said Mr. Lobo.
3. There is pent up demand for orthopedic procedures, and Mr. Lobo sees the recovery coming in waves. "You have a number of employees that are furloughed that would love to get their procedures done now while they have health coverage, worried about what could happen in the future. That could be the first wave of resumption procedures," he said. "Then you also have people who have taken time off and that may not be able to take time off later, so that could cause a slight dip and then resumption again."
4. Prior to the pandemic, there was great momentum for the Mako robotic surgical line and Mr. Lobo sees that resuming when elective procedures begin again as well as a delay in new orders. "Liquidity of the hospitals is important when you're outlaying large amounts of money. But we see tremendous signs of continued interest," he said. "No order is being canceled, just being delayed a little bit until elective surgeries resume…hospitals do see it as a differentiator and we continue to be very bullish about the prospects of Mako."
5. Mr. Lobo said he was pleased with how the company's spine business is progressing and there were improvements since the K2M acquisition prior to the pandemic. There were a number of products set to launch in the first quarter. "Unfortunately, that got derailed, just like everybody else's spine business…we're not immune from that," he said. "But I would say I feel as good as I felt about our spine business since the acquisition of K2M. Every day, we sort of continue to build momentum."
6. Stryker has created a strategy around selling implants to ASCs over the past few years after Mr. Lobo was initially concerned about how ASCs would impact the business. The company also has a flexible financial program that helps ASCs purchase the Mako robotic technology. "Now I'm actually believing that [ASCs] are going to be a very good thing for us because…we have everything they need for their surgery and we have the disposables and the implants," he said. "Wrapping that up in a financing solution gives us a really tremendous advantage as more and more procedures go to the ASCs."
Click here for the breakdown of the company's first quarter financial report.