The figures belie the prowess of Medtronic's so-called "sustainable" and "broad-based" growth.

While all segments - cardiovascular, neuroscience, surgery and diabetes - did indeed post year-on-year sales gains, these were unfortunately entirely consumed by inflation in the cost structure.

Consolidated sales rose by 3.6%, from $31.2 to $32.3 billion, but operating profit fell by 6.2%, from $5.5 to $5.1 billion. In addition, business stagnated in the United States.

Clearly, the most important thing for Medtronic is to honor its status as a dividend aristocrat. The Minneapolis-based group has announced its forty-seventh consecutive year of dividend increases, and points out that payouts have risen by 30% in five years.

The problem is that earnings per share have fallen sharply over the period - by at least 20%, from $3.5 to $2.8. The dynamics are comparable in terms of cash flow, and all the more worrying given that Medtronic was an active acquirer throughout the previous cycle.

The return on investment of these external growth operations - starting with the mega-buyout of Covidien in 2015 - remains a taboo subject on which management will have to explain itself sooner or later.

As we pointed out in our last commentary on the Group's results, the subject of value creation - or rather, its probable destruction - therefore remains central, especially when set against still rather high valuation levels.