Boston Scientific Turnaround Finally Begins to Take Shape

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Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX) is trading higher today after earnings and after a restructuring direction has been set. Unfortunately for its investors, Boston Scientific remains a story of an endless turnaround that just has not been able to turn itself around. Investors are signaling that this turnaround has some legs to it.

The company said that the decline in sales was 1% in the fourth quarter, an improvement from the 7% decline seen the prior quarter. Earnings fell 44% due to restructuring charges and items. For all of 2013, the company sees $7.05 billion to $7.35 billion in sales. That compares to $7.12 billion in 2012 and to the Thomson Reuters consensus of close to $7.25 billion expected this year.

In order to address the changes as needed in the company, Boston scientific plans to cut 900 to 1,000 jobs via layoffs and attrition. CEO Michael Mahoney, a former executive of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), also said that Boston Scientific would repurchase up to $1 billion worth of its common stock. For those who worry about when executives call their shares underpriced, the reference was made as CFO Jeffrey Capello said that the firm continues to believe that its stock is undervalued.

Mahoney said that the medical devices company plans to fund its growth strategy and improve its margins by focusing on improvements with a disciplined approach in its restructuring efforts. As part of the new focus in the turnaround, Mahoney said that he plans to speed up the company’s research and development, and plans to cut costs and accelerate its efforts in emerging market expansion. This effort comes at a time when Boston Scientific and peers face pricing pressures in the United States and Europe. Medical device taxes under health care reform pose another potential issue.

We have written about Boston Scientific for years now as a great turnaround candidate that just never quite turns around. What is interesting is that while shares remain at very low historic prices, the stock just hit a new 52-week high today. Shares are up 4.5% to $7.18, and the prior 52-week trading range was $4.79 to $6.93.

The market cap is now almost $9.85 billion. To show just how bad this has gone, the last time that Boston Scientific’s stock price was above $10 was back in 2009. Shares peaked above $40 back in 2004, and the company has never recovered from the very expensive Guidant acquisition. Now investors have to hope that Mahoney can deliver after so many other turnaround managers have failed.

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