Boston Scientific Downgrade — Valuation or Turnaround Risk?

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Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX) is in a long-term turnaround that frankly just feels like it never really has turned around. Or has it?

We can criticize the mistakes of management from before the recession that wrecked the company with a massively leveraged acquisition, but the reality is that shares are up 65% from the lows of 2012. We assumed that an analyst downgrade today would have been over a lack of ability to turn this ship around, but that downgrade was based on valuation.

The medical device maker’s shares were downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse. Again, we were surprised to see that the downgrade was based on valuation when you consider that this stock used to trade north of $40 and higher, versus $7.89 as of Tuesday’s closing bell.

Credit Suisse said that the stock was simply now within 8% of its $8.50 price target and that the stock merely just did not have enough implied upside to continue with an Outperform rating. The firm said:

While we don’t see Boston Scientifics’s current valuation of 10-times 2014 P/E (ex-amortization) as stretched, we believe further upside likely requires outperformance relative to expectations which have been elevated following the company’s sequential top-line improvement in the fourth quarter of 2012 and its investor day.

We figured that this was a lack of catalysts or an inability to turn around a stuck ship. It was just a valuation downgrade. Shares of Boston Scientific are down close to 2% on Wednesday around $7.75, against a 52-week trading range of $4.79 to $7.95.

Imagine what sort of valuation concerns would be present if this stock rose the 500% or so required to back to its old highs from before the recession. The market value today is $10.7 billion. A gain of 65% from the low sure sounds like a good turnaround. The problem is that it barely scratches the surface in getting the shares back anywhere close to where they were before.

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