The Deerfield, Ill.-based company reported profits of $171 million, or 33¢ per share, on sales of $3.2 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020 — versus a loss of –$19 million, or –5¢ per share, on sales of $3.0 billion during Q4 2019.
Adjusted to exclude one-time items, earnings per share were 80¢, 4¢ ahead of The Street, where analysts predicted earnings per share of 76¢ and sales of $3 billion.
As with many medical device companies, Baxter saw the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic affect procedure numbers during Q4 2020, with U.S. hospital admissions declining to low double digits and surgical procedures flat compared to pre-COVID levels.
“Amid an unprecedented global public health crisis, Baxter remains focused on advancing our mission for patients and driving value for all stakeholders,” president and CEO Joe Almeida said in a news release. “Our 2020 performance demonstrates the underlying strength of our portfolio, as well as our heightened agility and resilience fueled by our ongoing transformation. As we enter 2021, we remain focused on our strategy to accelerate sales through enhanced commercial execution and innovation as well as driving margin expansion this year and beyond.”
“Even as we rise to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Baxter is committed to returning value to shareholders while strategically pursuing investment in a range of organic and inorganic growth opportunities,” said CFO Jay Saccaro said. “In 2020, we returned approximately $1 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, and we deployed approximately $500 million to inorganic investments to fuel future growth.”
Baxter expects sales growth of approximately 3% on a reported basis in the first quarter. It also expects GAAP earnings of 53¢ to 55¢ per diluted share.
Shares in BAX were up 2% to $78.83 apiece at market open.