Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Blame Obamacare for the Medical-Device Sales Slump?

For example, some of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)’s sales decline stemmed from its agreement to supply Promus stents to Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) in mid-2012.Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW) CEO Michael Mussallem said that lower-than-expected transcatheter heart valve sales were “primarily the result of evolving economics for some hospitals and still developing capacity of both hospitals and their heart teams.”

At least one medical-device maker actually had a good first quarter. Robotic surgical systems maker Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) grew its revenue by more than 23% year over year. First-quarter revenue of $611 million beat what analysts were expecting by $30 million. And Intuitive was shackled with the same medical-device tax that all the other aforementioned companies bore.

Don’t make too much out of Intuitive Surgical’s exception, though. While the company is a medical-device maker, grouping its products with more traditional medical devices is like comparing apples to oranges.

Blame game?
So, is Obamacare to blame for the poor results for several medical-device companies in the first quarter? I think the answer is that it’s too soon to know for sure.

My view is that the legislation’s excise tax is taking some economic toll. How big that impact is, though, is difficult to ascertain. I would also posit that multiple factors are at work in the first-quarter results, as evidenced by the reasons cited by the different companies. Obamacare might be a cause for industry weakness, but it’s not the only cause.

Do you think Obamacare could be a major culprit for sluggish medical-device sales? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

The article Blame Obamacare for the Medical-Device Sales Slump? originally appeared on

Fool contributor Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Intuitive Surgical and Johnson & Johnson.

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