Greatbatch likes to keep its business close to the heart. The company is a leading maker of batteries used in implantable medical devices such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs). Other medical components include electrodes, capacitors, and feedthroughs (used to deliver electrical signals from an implantable medical device to an electrode). Greatbatch also makes batteries for demanding industrial applications, such as oil and gas exploration. Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and St. Jude Medical are among the company's top customers. Greatbatch gets nearly half of its sales from US clients.
The Greatbatch medical segment serves the markets of cardiac rhythm management (CRM, such as pacemakers), neuromodulation (pacemaker devices that stimulate nerves for the treatment of such conditions as epilepsy), vascular access (introducers, specialty medical coatings, steerable sheaths, and catheters), and orthopedic treatment. The segment also provides such services as assembly and design engineering for the products, such as implantable medical devices, that use Greatbatch components. The company's QiG Group focuses on the innovation of new medical devices that are then made by the medical segment. The CRM/neuromodulation group accounts for 53% of sales. Orthopedic represents 25% and vascular access contributes 8%.
Greatbatch's electrochem segment makes batteries and wireless sensors used in industrial environments, including the oil and gas, portable medical, military, and environmental markets. Its customers include Halliburton, Weatherford International, General Electric, and Thales. The electrochem segment accounts for 14% of sales.
Sales rose 7% in 2011 vs. 2010. By segment medical headed up 6% while electrochem increased 9%. Within the medical segment, sales for CRM/neuromodulation were flat while vascular access surged 19% and orthopedic soared 18%. CRM/neuromodulation struggled with pricing pressures and lower demand in its underlying market. Vascular access did well thanks in part to strong demand for a new product, OptiSeal Valved Peelable Introducer. Orthopedic sales performed well with support from investments the company made to improve operations and increase market share. Electrochem's uptick was due in part to investments in sales and marketing to bring up market share and strong demand from the energy market.
After weathering a net loss of $9 million in 2009 Greatbatch enjoyed net income of $33.1 million in 2010. Net income stayed flat the next year when it weighed in again at $33.1 million.
Greatbatch is facing several challenges, including health care legislation that mandates changes in payment methods and new taxes for OEM customers in its medical segment. In its electrochem segment, volatile prices over the past few years, along with growing demand for alternative energy sources, affects the oil and gas industry upon which electrochem depends.
Greatbatch has launched a medical device strategy -- focused on the development on innovative products for the medical market -- that calls for expanding two facilities, buying more equipment, and transferring some product operations to make more room for producing medical devices. The QiG Group, established in 2008 and tasked with designing and developing medical devices, is also a key component of this strategy. More broadly the strategy comprises all steps of medical development, from design to regulatory approval and global distribution. Optiseal, which contributed to the vascular access group's sales increase, is the first product to be commercialized under the medical device strategy. Also to support that strategy, Greatbatch is moving its global headquarters from New York state to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a medical technology center.
Greatbatch uses acquisitions primarily to expand its product lines and related markets. Its 2012 acquisition of NeuroNexus Technologies for about $12 million added neural interface technology applications for the neuroscience and clinical markets. In 2011 Greatbatch paid more than $71 million to buy Micro Power Electronics, which serves the portable medical, military, handheld automatic identification and data collection markets with custom battery products that complement electrochem's products. – less