You can measure a company’s performance in countless ways. You can slice financial data into earnings, margins and cash flow, or you can track dividends and total shareholder returns.

As the chief executive of Stryker, I want to begin this letter by pointing you toward what I consider the single most crucial indicator of our success in 2010: our spirit. This incredibly intangible asset produced highly tangible results for you, our shareholders, this year.

The willingness of our people to embrace competitive, economic and organizational challenges was unprecedented, and they responded with the drive, energy and optimism that are the hallmarks—the backbone, really—of our company. Our employees have prepared us to perform at a higher level in our industry, with our partners and customers, and especially for the thousands of patients whose bodies we repair and whose lives we improve. It is their work, along with the dedication and direction from our leadership teams and our Board of Directors, that made 2010 the culmination of years of planning and intense focus on achieving the next level for our organization.

Here are some of our most significant steps forward in 2010, none of which would have been achieved without the passion and determination of our over 20,000 Stryker employees:

  • Amid a persistently fickle global economy that posed challenges to many medical technology companies, we delivered revenue and earnings growth at the high end of our expectations;
  • Stryker’s financial strength, particularly our continued robust cash flow, enabled us to take on multiple acquisitions in 2010 that advanced our growth strategy—most notably, the purchase of Boston Scientific’s Neurovascular business, which we completed in early 2011;
  • Our unique combination of businesses continued to provide revenue stability and strong growth. While sales of Orthopaedic Implants grew for every major franchise, that growth was outpaced by the performance of our MedSurg businesses, which rebounded from a challenging 2009 and recorded 16% year-on-year sales growth;
  • Our ongoing investment in the redesign and execution of our quality systems resulted in the lifting of the three remaining Warning Letters from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA);
  • For the first time, we made FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work For” list, debuting at number 68, which is a true testament to the Stryker spirit and our great culture;
  • And, despite the ongoing uncertainty in the global economic environment, we enter 2011 optimistic about our prospects for growth in every one of our global franchises.

In many ways, 2010 was a defining year for us, the result of many years of planning and work by our Board, our leadership teams and our employees. It was a year where we accelerated our financial performance, delivered on our priorities in strategic areas of focus, and broadened our opportunities through acquisitions in new and adjacent growth platforms.