Teleflex buys Calif. company for $725M

Teleflex, the Wayne-based medical-device company, says it has agreed to pay up to $1.1 billion for NeoTract, a Pleasanton, Calif., firm that makes the UroLift urinary-tract implant to help men who have trouble urinating due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

That condition swells the prostate gland. UroLift keeps the urethra open.

The buyer agreed to pay $725 million up front, plus up to $375 million if NeoTract meets sales goals through 2020. Teleflex employs more than 12,600, with facilities worldwide, including area locations in Lumberton, Reading, and Lancaster as well as Wayne.

That price is more than 14 times last years’s NeoTract sales of $51 million, which would be a high  premium for a mature business. But Teleflex is counting on rapid growth for UroLift. Sales rose 20 percent or more “in 13 of the past 14 quarters,” Teleflex chief executive Benson Smith said in a statement. “They continue to penetrate the market” while speeding work on a “second-generation” UroLift that Smith expects will boost worldwide sales starting next summer.

NeoTract sales more than doubled last year, from $18 million in 2015, and are expected to more than triple to $115 million this year, rising to more than $160 million in 2018. Both boards approved the deal, and Teleflex hopes to close it in the next 30 days.

If sales meet that target and Teleflex pays full price, NeoTract will be the largest acquisition of at least 20 it has closed since Teleflex increased its focus on medical devices in 2012. ADDED 9/6/17: The company, founded by Malcolm C. Chisolm, a Canadian immigrant, was developed as a maker of mechanical, air, boat and industrial controls. “They were in the 400 block of Wingohocking Street in Philadelphia in 1956 when I went to work there as a stock clerk, I lived in the 200 block,” says Erwin Scharf, who retired from the company as production manager in 1996 when Teleflex sold the aerospace unit to the current Triumph Group, of Berwyn. “They treated us great. And we had a very strong union — the UAW, United Auto Workers.” (END OF ADD)

The stock rose 50 cents to $211.01 in morning trading, off around 2 percent since its all-time high in early August but still triple its value of five years ago. Teleflex has returned 78 percent more than the S&P 400 Health Care Sector stocks over the last five-year period. Teleflex’s largest previous deal was for Vascular Solutions Inc., Minneapolis, for $963 million, in 2016.

“The management has done a great job restructuring the company,” said Robert Costello, owner of Costello Asset Management, Huntingdon Valley, who has watched Teleflex expand and change focus over the last 20 years. “Medical devices is a good business,” he added.

Shares of Teleflex, with its high profit margins and low debt, have appreciated as well as, or better than, larger competitors including C.R. Bard Inc., Becton Dickinson Co., and Baxter International. But at 20 times earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization, the stock “is very expensive” and has attracted a few short sellers, he added. Costello is not currently a Teleflex investor.

The sale “is a recognition” of the “hard work and dedication” of NeoTract founders Josh Makower, M.D.; Ted Lamson, Ph.D.,; and Joe Catanese, Ph.D., said NeoTract CEO Dave Amerson in a statement. He said his group “looks forward to partnering” with Teleflex to serve patients and boost sales.