When most of us think of coronavirus stocks, we think of vaccine makers or companies developing therapeutics. We probably don't think of medical device players specializing in heart pumps.
Since June, hospitals have been using Abiomed's (NASDAQ:ABMD) heart pumps to help COVID-19 patients through serious heart and lung events. The most severe coronavirus complications affect these organs -- so it's clear Abiomed may be an important player in this field, right alongside vaccine-makers and drug developers. But does that mean you should buy the stock? Let's take a closer look at Abiomed's products and overall business.
Abiomed manufactures the Impella family of heart pumps. They're used to help patients through cardiogenic shock, a state in which the heart can't pump enough blood. They also assist patients with right heart failure (dysfunction of the right heart structures) following a procedure such as open-heart surgery. The pumps allow the heart to rest so that it can later return to normal functioning.
Helping the heart
In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to the Impella RP to treat COVID-19 patients with right heart failure. This stems from pulmonary embolism, or the blockage of a lung artery. Pulmonary embolism occurs in up to one third of coronavirus patients who require intensive care treatment, according to a paper published in Annals of Intensive Care. Cardiologists can put Abiomed's device to work in a matter of minutes -- helping the heart to pump -- to save these patients' lives.
The FDA offered Abiomed a coronavirus-related EUA for its left-sided Impella pumps in August. This applies to COVID-19 patients who develop fluid in the lungs or inflammation of the heart muscle while on a life support machine. Use of the pump reduces the work required of the heart -- allowing the heart and lungs to recover.
And finally, Abiomed has started using its newly approved cardiopulmonary bypass system in COVID-19 patients. The FDA cleared the Breethe Oxy-1 System to pump and oxygenate blood for patients whose lungs can't do the job. This happens in acute respiratory distress syndrome and as a result of some infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus. In December, Abiomed said it treated its first COVID-19 patient with Breethe. The patient's condition improved after 24 hours on the system, the company said.
Many healthcare professionals say that although we can end the pandemic through vaccination and social distancing, the virus won't disappear entirely. It's still likely to continue circulating for the foreseeable future, and people will continue to be hospitalized. If the virus continues to cause major problems year after year, Abiomed's devices could become a significant part of coronavirus care into the future.
And, of course, doctors use the devices in other patients suffering from heart and lung conditions. That means need for Abiomed's products will continue -- whether coronavirus persists or not.
The financial picture
Now, let's take a look at the financial picture. Annual net income and revenue have generally increased over the past five years. The share price, while up nearly 150% since the March market crash, is still lower than highs reached in 2018.
In the third quarter -- Abiomed's most recent -- the company reported record revenue of $232 million, for a 5% increase year over year. And operating income rose 2% to $71.4 million. That was in spite of headwinds from the coronavirus crisis. Many medical device companies have suffered during the pandemic as hospitals cancel non-urgent procedures in order to dedicate resources to coronavirus care.
Abiomed has more than $787 million in cash and no debt. Abiomed's outlook is bright: It predicts fourth-quarter revenue may gain as much as 14% year over year to $235 million.
What does this mean for investors? I don't like the idea of investing in a company for only one indication. So, I wouldn't buy Abiomed for its coronavirus work alone. But we can invest in Abiomed for its treatment of coronavirus and a range of cardiac problems. The medical device company has proven itself with a positive profit and revenue track record.
Abiomed may not be center on the coronavirus stage like vaccine makers that have dominated headlines in recent months. But it plays an important role on that stage -- and in other indications too. And that makes it a great coronavirus stock to own.