A Little Diversity Goes a Long Way

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Medtronic (NYS: MDT) doesn't have all its eggs in one basket. Its top-selling segment dropped 5% and its second-best selling segment came in flat -- the two making up a combined 33% of sales -- but the medical-device maker still managed to increase total revenue by 6% in its second fiscal quarter.

First the bad news: Defibrillator sales remain weak. The year-over-year decline isn't surprising; the weaker economy puts a drag on procedures as patients reconsider the cost-benefit analysis for procedures that are less than life-threatening. Still, there's always an opportunity to take market share from Boston Scientific (NYS: BSX) and St. Jude Medical (NYS: STJ) , to make up for the general market contraction.

Core spinal products, Medtronic's second-best selling group, remains weak with flat sales. Biologics used in spinal procedures were down nearly 4%. Blame it on the economy again, plus its struggling bone-fusion biologic Infuse, which fell 16% as doctors continue to question its efficacy/safety profile.

Sales of Physio-Control were flat, but that's meaningless at this point since Medtronic announced an agreement to sell the segment to Bain Capital. By my calculations, the segment wasn't contributing much to the bottom line.

The good news is that almost everything else was up. The cardiovascular segment was up 12% -- there's an opportunity there with Johnson & Johnson (NYS: JNJ) leaving the drug-eluting-stent market -- neuromodulation was up 9%, diabetes products rose 13%, and surgical technologies jumped 22%. Individually, none of them is a substantially large part of total revenue, but with all of them near or exceeding double-digit growth, they can counteract the stagnation of the larger segments.

Now just imagine what Medtronic could do if it can get its large units back on the growth track.

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At the time this article was published Fool contributorBrian Orelliholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, St. Jude Medical, and Medtronic.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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