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Medtronic expects COVID-19 vaccine to aid return to pre-pandemic growth levels

(Reuters) - A vaccine for COVID-19 will help Medtronic Plc reach pre-pandemic growth levels by fiscal fourth quarter, Chief Executive Officer Geoff Martha told Reuters on Tuesday.

“There is some sort of psychological impact on patients and physicians having more confidence knowing that it (vaccine) is coming,” Martha said during a post-earnings interview.

The comments come as the United States prepares to distribute the first round of vaccines against the novel coronavirus by mid-December.

Shares of the medical device maker rose nearly 4%, after the company also beat profit estimates for the second quarter.

Medtronic said demand for non-urgent procedures continued to improve in the quarter and the first weeks of November, from the lows recorded during the peak of the pandemic, echoing comments from rival Abbott Laboratories.

Many medical device makers have suffered as movement restrictions and overworked hospital systems led to delays in elective surgeries, which affected product sales.

Martha said Medtronic and its peers will get back to more normal growth, as the virus subsides and hospital capacity ramps back up.

Medtronic also said it was cautiously optimistic about seeing a limited impact from a second wave of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and infections.

“Hospitals are better equipped now to handle COVID-19 patients and remain open to serve non-COVID patients,” Medtronic Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill said during a post-earnings conference call.

“And over time and with education, patient fear is not as heightened as it was last spring and early summer.”

Excluding items, Medtronic earned $1.02 per share in the second quarter, beating analysts’ expectation of 80 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

It did not provide annual or quarterly financial targets, citing uncertainty from the pandemic.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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