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Stryker Corporation - Shareholder/Analyst Call

So we quickly started moving towards a more harmonized approach on both quality and manufacturing, culminating this year in January with all of our manufacturing networks around the world, every single manufacturing employee now reporting for the first time into one group President, Lonny Carpenter, previously had been dispersed amongst all of our operating division presidents. So now we have all of the projects aligned under one leader in concert with the other members of the executive leadership team.

The bottom half, acquisitions and capital allocation, really the same thing. What do we do with a balance sheet that in 2007, 2008 really was not leveraged? Very flush with cash. And how do we use that to the benefit of the company for long-term growth and for shareholders? And as many of you who've followed us know, Katherine and I have been commenting now ad nauseum that our priorities for our balance sheet are M&A, dividends and buybacks. We have not aligned on a percentage of free cash flow that's going to go into any one of those categories in the year. What we have said is that ideally, you would look back at us in those categories over a 3-year period and say those allocations made sense. Those allocations made sense based on what was in front of you. You can't time M&A. Certainly, you can do buybacks very quickly if you need to. And once you commit to a dividend, you better be prepared to always fund it because you never want to take that away. So hopefully, as you look at the '08 to '11 period that I'll show you, you see a nice, consistent allocation at each of those 3 categories. And all of those, rolled up together, are part of our repositioning in med tech.

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