Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX) may have been the premier medical supply company in the world — in 2006, before it bought rival Guidant, then had a series of problems with its stents and other widely used devices. There is an illusion that the company has turned around, but it is nothing more than that.
Boston Scientific’s share price has almost doubled since October to just above $7.50 The activity seems impressive, unless it is viewed in light of the stock’s longer term performance. Shares are down 40% over the past five years, while the S&P is higher by more than 10%. That makes the stock among the worst performing among large companies over those five years.
Easily forgotten in light of the market’s recent enthusiasm about the company is that it has lost money six of the past seven years. Boston Scientific’s revenue peaked in 2007 at $8.4 billion. Last year, the comparable number was $7.2 billion. In 2012, Boston Scientific lost more than $4 billion, much of it due to special charges.
Wall St. still does not expect much from the company in the next year, another reason the run up in the stock is odd. According to analysts from Morningstar:
In terms of its pipeline, we think Boston has fallen behind its key competitors in the race to develop and introduce the emerging technologies that are likely to fuel growth in cardiac devices over the next decade.
Analysts expect 2013 revenue to drop by 2% to $7.2 billion. So, Boston Scientific will not post any breakthroughs in its business that will transform it to a level at which it could be viewed as successful.
Short-term trends in share prices often mask a historic string of failures, as well as beg investors to consider how companies have been run and have performed long term. If there is any case to be made for that kind of examination, it is Boston Scientific, which has done nothing for shareholders in eight years.