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26 Jun 2002
MOODY'S CHANGES CR BARD'S RATING OUTLOOK TO POSITIVE (SR UNSECURED AT Baa2)
New York, June 26, 2002 -- Moody's Investors Service changed C.R. Bard's rating outlook to positive from stable (senior unsecured at Baa2). Moody's notes that this outlook change is supported by the company's steady cash flow generation and the expectation that, following its decision to not merge with Tyco International, Bard will focus on internal growth versus growth via major and/or debt-financed acquisitions. In addition, the positive rating outlook assumes that the company's senior management succession plans are focused on internal candidates which we believe will more likely result in continuation of Bard's current strategy.
Among Bard's strengths are its diverse and moderately technology-intensive products which we believe are subject to less volatility. In addition, Bard enjoys solid free cash flow relative to low levels of debt. Bard manufactures largely disposable products in urology and oncology as well as diagnostic and interventional products in surgical specialties and vascular medicine. We believe Bard has maintained good market presence for most of its product lines with the exception of vascular, which faces tough competition and technological challenges. Offsetting factors include the need for Bard to fund higher R&D spending levels through cost cutting initiatives, challenges faced when investing R&D across broad sectors, and the need to fully regain momentum following the termination of its merger agreement with Tyco. In addition, there is concern that, over time, the company's moderate growth targets (7-8% revenue and 12% earnings growth), may not be sufficient to meet future shareholder and market demands.
If the company maintains its current growth strategy, good free cash flow relative to low debt levels, and shows evidence of higher R&D capabilities to support future internal growth, a rating upgrade will be possible in the next 12-24 months.
C.R. Bard, headquartered in Murray Hill, New Jersey, is a leading manufacturer and marketer of health care products worldwide.
No Related Data.
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