|Bid||359.40 x 0|
|Ask||359.60 x 0|
|Day's range||345.20 - 372.40|
|52-week range||196.15 - 701.80|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.14|
|PE ratio (TTM)||19.28|
|Earnings date||05 Aug 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-dividend date||19 Mar 2020|
|1y target est||577.07|
(Bloomberg) -- When Britain’s government issued an urgent call to industry for thousands of hospital ventilators, more than 5,000 companies offered to help. Coronavirus infections are expected to peak next week and there’s little to show for their effort.Significant deliveries from the firms are still weeks away, and the embattled National Health Service has resorted to foreign imports and loans from the armed forces and the private sector to double its ventilator count to around 10,000. While the national lockdown appears to be slowing the spread of Covid-19, the NHS may need as many as 8,000 more of the devices, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.The government is under intense pressure to solve Britain’s shortage of the machines that are vital for treating critically ill patients. It already spurned an offer to join a European Union program for procuring ventilators, initially stating it was no longer a member of the bloc and could source them locally, before backtracking and saying it had missed the email inviting participation. EU leaders are struggling to coordinate a response to the virus; last night they were unable to agree on a 500 billion-euro ($543 billion) stimulus package.It’s not that U.K. Plc can’t do the job: The machines are seen as relatively straightforward to make and much of industry has been sitting on its hands since the economy tanked. The problem is that vacuum cleaner maker Dyson Ltd., engineering contractor Babcock International Group Plc and other newcomers to the business need their designs to be fully tested and approved.It can take months for the U.K. Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to sign off on sensitive medical machinery. The process can be expedited, but still takes valuable time to ensure patients’ safety.“It’s a race against the clock,” said Derek Hill, a professor specializing in medical devices at University College London. The regulator is “literally working all hours making this happen fast.”For now, the supply of ventilators from British manufacturers is tiny. The NHS expects to receive 30 locally-made machines this week, compared to 300 sourced from China over the weekend.Department of Health and Social Care officials say they are confident there will be enough ventilators to meet demand, given the steps being taken to increase the number available, and as long as people continue to stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus.Pistons, TurbochargersIn the short run, the greatest hope lies with consortium Ventilator Challenge UK, which includes Meggitt Plc, Airbus SE, GKN Ltd, McLaren Automotive Ltd and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc. They plan to churn out 1,500 ventilators a week using designs from Penlon Ltd. and Smiths Group Plc, two medical device makers that can currently only make about 50 to 60 of the machines per week on their own. The group already has an approved ventilator from Smiths. But it’s still closing in on final approval for the other, and its factories and supply chains are in need of re-calibrating, so large deliveries are unlikely before the end of April.A breathing aid developed by engineers from the Mercedes Formula One team and University College London has been approved for use. It’s being manufactured at a rate of as many as 1,000 a day using machines that would normally produce racing car pistons and turbochargers. It’s not as sophisticated as a ventilator, but it can help reduce the need for those devices.Companies such as Babcock -- which has a government contract to make 10,000 of its Zephyr Plus ventilators -- face a longer wait for approval. They may end up being useful in a potential second or third wave of infection.Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is in hospital with the disease, set a challenge last month to source 30,000 ventilators.The government now says fewer will be needed because lockdown measures have slowed the virus’s spread. The NHS has 2,000 extra ventilators on standby, with 1,500 more due to arrive by the end of the week, Hancock said on Sunday.(Updates with news on EU fiscal stimulus in third paragraph; adds context)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s attempt to plug a shortage of life-saving ventilators needed to treat the most seriously ill coronavirus patients is being hobbled by mishaps and confusion.Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s failure to sign up to a European Union-wide effort to buy ventilators has left the government open to accusations of putting Brexit over people’s lives -- while U.K. manufacturers have warned they might need months to respond to the government’s call to ramp up production.At stake is Britain’s ability to respond to a nationwide outbreak that has already claimed 759 lives. The National Health Service has less than a third of the devices it needs and Johnson’s call to get 30,000 in service within weeks is not just a test of his leadership, but also his reluctance to engage with the EU.“The hard reality is there’s an awfully big hill to climb,” said James Greenham, managing director of medical device manufacturer EMS Physio. “When you hear ministers say we’re going to have thousands of these in a few weeks, you simply cannot believe them.”Johnson’s spokesman initially said the government didn’t take part in the Europe-wide procurement program because the U.K. isn’t a member of the EU. After the bloc pointed out Britain was still welcome to join, the prime minister’s office said it didn’t receive the invitation due to a “communication problem.”Four RoundsThe bloc insisted British representatives were in meetings about sourcing ventilators and it was clear the U.K., which left the bloc in January, was eligible to join the EU initiative. London’s decision not to take part means it has already missed out on four procurement rounds.“The possibility of launching a procurement procedure has been discussed several times in meetings of the health security committee in which the U.K. participated,” Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker told reporters. “At these meetings the commission stressed its readiness to further support countries with the procurement of medical counter-measures if needed. So member states and the U.K. had the opportunity to signal they wanted to participate.”On the domestic front, companies such as Airbus SE, Dyson Ltd. and Formula 1 teams have all offered to produce ventilators. But industry executives were skeptical about how quickly the devices will be available.Even using an existing ventilator design, it could take three months to source the materials needed and train manufacturing staff to oversee the process, Greenham said.Dyson announced this week it had developed a new ventilator and received an order from Britain for 10,000 units -- but the government later said its purchase would depend on regulators approving the device.“So Much Ambiguity”A separate group including Airbus, McLaren Automotive Ltd, Siemens AG and Meggitt Plc is trying to ramp up production of existing ventilator designs made by Smiths Group Plc and Penlon Ltd -- but it is also waiting for the green light from government.“Things are happening, but there’s so much ambiguity and vagueness at the moment,” said Tony Hague, chief executive officer of Midlands-based manufacturer PP Control & Automation, which has offered to help the ventilator-building effort. “There are a lot of people not very clear about a lot of things.”Any new ventilator design would have to jump through lengthy -- and necessary -- regulatory hoops in order to be approved for use in intensive care wards, according to Greenham. That process, which includes developing a prototype, testing it “to destruction,” and ensuring traceability of all components, typically takes two to three years, he said.Johnson held talks with some of the manufacturers late on Thursday, according to his office, and assured them the government would move as quickly as possible to approve new designs as long as they meet the requirements.Test First“I’m sure Dyson and Airbus have got thousands of engineers who can help, but you’ve still got to test it and verify it before you go into production,” he said.Greenham’s verdict chimes with what Penlon Ltd. said soon after Johnson issued his call to manufacturers. The company makes anesthesia machines that perform some of the functions of intensive care ventilators and is now involved in one of the groups working to scale up production. To develop a new product from scratch and secure regulatory approval would take three years, it said.For all the criticism, some progress is being made, with the government acquiring 50 ventilators from overseas in the past week, according to one official familiar with the matter.“The government is pulling out every stop to explore every avenue to get more ventilators,” said Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the MakeUK manufacturing lobby group. “No stone is unturned on this one. Whether it results in ventilators being produced quickly enough is another matter -- but they are trying everything.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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