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Globe 100 | No. 22 - Haemonetics Corp.

Machines for healing

Why this year’s top device maker is a company you probably haven’t heard about

Brian Concannon said his company 'has tried to fly below the radar screen.' Brian Concannon said his company "has tried to fly below the radar screen." (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Todd Wallack
Globe Staff / May 18, 2010

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Over the past 40 years, Haemonetics Corp. has quietly become one of the state’s largest makers of medical devices, offering a number of products to help process and manage blood. Yet chief executive Brian Concannon said that around here, most people aren’t even sure how to pronounce the company’s name (HE-mon-et-ix), let alone explain what it does.

“We’ve typically been a company that has tried to fly below the radar screen,’’ said Concannon, who succeeded Brad Nutter as chief executive last year. Nutter remained as chairman.

But as Haemonetics continues to grow, it is becoming harder to overlook.

Today, Haemonetics has a market value of more than $1.4 billion, and more than 2,150 employees in 16 countries, including 800 who work at the company’s 14-acre headquarters in Braintree and its warehouse in Stoughton. More than half its sales come from other countries.

And despite the downturn, Haemonetics has continued to grow — even if a bit more slowly than planned.

The firm’s revenue soared 7.6 percent to $629 million in 2009, double what it was seven years ago. And earnings rose even faster, climbing 16 percent to $68 million last year.

“We’ve enjoyed some really good growth,’’ said Concannon. “We’ve weathered the storm fairly well, and are going to improve.’’

Most Haemonetics products fall into two categories: equipment to help collect blood plasma in donation centers and products used to help patients avoid transfusions by salvaging and monitoring their blood during surgery.

But only a fraction of the firm’s profits come from selling equipment. Just as Gillette famously made money selling blades rather than the razors, Haemonetics generates more than 87 percent of its revenue from disposable products used in its machines. The rest of the revenue comes mainly from selling the machines, as well as software to help blood banks and hospitals manage their blood supplies.

Still, the company’s revenue has grown more slowly recently, a result of hospital cutbacks and declines in elective surgeries. Shares slid 2 percent to $57.15 last calendar year, though the stock rose 4 percent through March 31, 2010.

“They’ve clearly had their share of challenges,’’ said Lawrence S. Keusch, a financial analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. in Boston, but “they have a management team that is really in full control of the business. They were able to hit the earnings they were looking for.’’

The company, which was founded in 1971, has also grown by making key acquisitions. Last year, Haemonetics acquired Altivation Software of California, which makes software for blood processing centers, and Neoteric Technology Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, which markets a product to track blood products within a hospital. And this year, the company purchased Global Med Technologies for $60 million.

As a result of the acquisitions, the company said in March it would cut about 170 jobs, and closed sites in Phoenix and Chicago. Haemonetics said the cuts will save about $14 million a year.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com.