Cantel Medical Record Quarter

December 12, 2011

Cantel Medical (CMN) had a record fiscal Q1 2012 ending October 31, 2011, driven by organic growth and acquisitions.

Cantel Medical has been a good stock to hold so far in 2011, closing today at $26.91, up 18% from $22.81 a year ago, with a 52 week high of $28.50 and a 52 week low of $19.02. Not a bad showing in this tough market.

Cantel Medical is a smallish company (market capitalization today ended at $483 million) specializing in infection control through sterilization and disposables. Infection control is more cost effective than treatment for infection, which has become a much larger problem because of the evolution of multiple-antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Cantel is not a well-known name, even in hospitals, partly because it operates through named divisions. Minntech makes and markets endoscope and dialysis equipment sterilizers. Crosstex is the disposables business, working mostly in the dental market, but also moving into the general medical market. It makes face masks, sterilization patches, and other single-use items. Mar Cor makes machines to purify water, often for specialized medical needs. A smaller division is Saf-T-Pak, which produces specialty packaging for transporting specimens, and related materials.

For the latest fiscal quarter, Q1, Cantel reported revenue at $93.3 million, up 8% sequentially from $86.0 million, and up 29% from $72.0 million in the year-earlier quarter. GAAP net income was $6.2 million, up 32% sequentially from $4.7 million, and up 24% from $5.0 million year-earlier. GAAP EPS was $0.35, up 30% sequentially from $0.27 and up 21% from $0.29 year-earlier.

The latest acquisition was of Byrne Medical, announced August 2, 2011. Byrne manufactures products that act as replacements in gastrointestinal endoscopy procedures, eliminating the need for sterilization before reuse. The price of $100 million for a company with trailing annual revenues of $38.6 million seemed high on a revenue basis, but trailing annual pre-tax profits were $8.6 million. Cantel expects to increase gross margins in the business, which had a historical growth rate of over 20%. Byrne Medical had a 30% y/y increase in sales to $11.5 million in Q1 and is already accretive to earnings and cash flow.

Cantel has been fueling its growth with acquisitions. As a result, it ended the quarter with $116.5 million in debt, as against a cash balance of $19.6 million. If you, like me, have been burned occasionally by the poor acquisition strategies of other companies, you might not take this as a recommendation. However, for the few years I have followed Cantel they have done very well with acquisitions. They don't pay too much and sometimes acquire a division of a company they want, rather than the whole company. Then they cross-sell the new products with their established sales force. They have made it work well so far.

Meanwhile, the water purification business also keeps growing. The disposables business should ramp up when (or if) the unemployment rate tweaks down. People have been avoiding doctor and dental visits for economic reasons. When they have the dough to head back in for a checkup, the run rate will pick up again, meaning more use of infection prevention disposables.

So, in summary, the overall anti-infection story is a good one. Cantel is a pure infection play, and it has top-notch management. Should you be cautious because the stock is up 18% y/y? My guess is that the stock is currently priced about right for the short term, although the stock could make another run for its 52 week highs, if the overall market firms up. The trailing P/E ratio at the end of today was 22 (per NASDAQ), which is reasonable for a company with a strong track record of growth. In the longer run I expect continuing profit growth will compell a higher stock price. Cantel Medical should be attractive to long-term investors looking for diversification in the healthcare space.

As a kicker, the dividend was recently raised to $0.14 per year, paid semi-annually.

For more details on quarter results, see my Cantel Medical Q4 fiscal 2011 analyst call summary.

Disclosure: I am long Cantel and will not change my position in the next 2 weeks.

William P. Meyers

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Copyright 2011 William P. Meyers