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MIDAS SHARE TIPS UPDATE: Vital signs are healthy for our medical tip LiDCO, as demand for its devices shoots up

This Is Money logo This Is Money 23/05/2020 Joanne Hart for The Mail on Sunday

There are strong signs that the Covid-19 is becoming less virulent in Britain but thousands of people are still falling ill with the disease, many of them seriously.

The most endangered sufferers are often struck with 'acute respiratory distress' – in other words, they find it increasingly hard to breathe. Fluid on the lungs often builds up and doctors have to calculate how best to treat this, using drugs, water restriction, ventilators or a combination of all three.

It is delicate and difficult work but LiDCO, an AIM-listed medical device firm, makes the process easier. 

a person standing in front of a computer: Lifesaver: LiDCO’s high tech monitors © Provided by This Is Money Lifesaver: LiDCO’s high tech monitors

The group produces haemodynamic monitors, which help doctors to make the right assessments at the right time. And demand has shot up, with more than 200 pieces of kit sold in the past three months, compared to 219 monitors for the whole of LiDCO's last financial year.

Southampton General is one of LiDCO's customers, where a coronavirus patient spent almost 60 days in intensive care but is now recovering. Other customers include St Thomas's in London, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was treated, as well as 101 hospitals across the UK, equivalent to 70 per cent of all NHS Trusts. 

Monitors are widely used in intensive care units for Covid-19 and other illnesses but also in operating theatres to check patients' blood pressure. They are even used by vets for animals undergoing surgery.

Studies show that LiDCO's products reduce patient deaths, minimise complications, cut time spent in hospital and trim costs. Its technology is simpler and more cost effective than that of most rivals, yet the firm has struggled for years to break into the big time.

Now prospects seem to be improving. The group is gaining new customers in the US – the world's biggest healthcare market – and recently released encouraging figures for the year to January 31, with revenues up 3 per cent to £7.5million, costs down and margins up. 

Recent sales have been buoyant. Chief executive Matt Sassone believes first quarter figures will be robust and he is optimistic about the months ahead too.

Many big investors believe that LiDCO's biggest problem is a lack of resources. The equipment works but the company does not have enough money to prove it, especially overseas. Looking ahead, that may change. 

There are suggestions that LiDCO will enter into partnership with a deeper-pocketed business or even find itself on the end of a takeover bid from a multinational operator.

Midas last looked at the shares in 2017, when they were 7.875p. Since then the stock has yo-yoed, falling to below 4p last year and soaring to more than 9p in March. Last week, the shares closed at 7.5p.

Investors could be forgiven for feeling frustrated with LiDCO's performance, especially as the shares were more than 28p back in 2014. But the response from doctors in recent weeks shows that they trust LiDCO's kit to perform in the most difficult circumstances – and that trust is likely to persist well after the Covid-19 pandemic has passed.

Midas verdict: LiDCO has been a disappointing investment to date but now is not the time to sell. The firm is making progress and doing its bit in the fight against coronavirus. The possibility of bid action adds spice to the mix, particularly as recent deals in the sector would suggest that companies are prepared to pay up for good technology. At 7.5p, the shares could even tempt in new investors.

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