Medtronic CFO: CRM market has a new baseline

Medtronic

The U.S. market for pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators remains tepid and unlikely to return to previous levels of growth, according to Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) CFO Gary Ellis.

Ellis, speaking at the Barclays Global Healthcare Conference, told investors that he expects the CRM industry to see single-digit growth across all markets, driven mostly by business outside the U.S.

"The U.S. and some of the developed markets will kind of be in flat to maybe just up a few dips in general," he said. "But the emerging markets will then kind of continue to drive a couple of percentage points of growth in general," he said.

Ellis called the current market conditions for CRM a "big improvement" over the performance of the industry over the past 2 years, when stagnant to declining markets weighed down many of the largest medical device makers, including Medtronic arch-rivals St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX).

The slowdown, which some analysts trace back to 2001, has been universally blamed on lower procedure volumes driven by a U.S. Justice Dept. investigation and a recent study (published in January in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.) that showed that 22.5% of patients fell short of medical guidelines required to receive the $25,000 devices.

Ellis said the investigation essentially set a new reality for the CRM market.

"I think overall it is just, we’ve set a new base, I mean when you saw, especially in ICDs, the whole Dept. of Justice investigations, everyone in the hospital systems clearly clamped down on making sure they knew that how they were proceeding with ICD implants. That just had a new base, and then since that point in time what you are seeing is what we’ve always expected, which is kind of based on demographics both in the pacemaker and ICD markets, that the aging of the population, the demographics, are going to kind of see low- to mid-single-digit procedural volume growth. And that’s what we are seeing at this point," he said.

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