The Boston Scientific Tobin Party


Man, it's gotta hurt when the publicly-traded company you've been leading for years announces you're stepping down and investors pop the champagne corks.

Shares of several of the big medical device makers are participating in today's rally, so it's hard to tell if Boston Scientific is just getting swept up in that or whether the fact that it's among the most actively traded stocks on the NYSE and the biggest percentage gainer in the group is due to its news today.

After 10 years at the helm, BSX CEO Jim Tobin is retiring and the former Chairman and CEO of Zimmer Holdings, which makes replacement parts for people, will take his place on July 13th.

Boston Scientific has been locked in an intense battle in the increasingly competitive drug-coated stent market. Those are the little wire mesh tubes that prop open clogged arteries. And it's successful, but hard-fought takeover duel with Johnson & Johnson for Guidant didn't turn out so well. Just this week, though, BSX announced study results that many analyst believe could reinvigorate sales growth for the implantable heart devices BSX got from Guidant.

JPMorgan MedTech analyst Mike Weinstein says, "We expect this morning's announcement, while sudden and surprising to the Street, to be positive for the stock, given Elliott's track record at ZMH of creating shareholder value." And Rick Wise at Leerink Swann says, "We believe Elliott is a highly experienced and energetic executive, capable of effecting positive change and driving progress at BSX." JPM has banked BSX and wants to do it again soon.

I've never met Elliott and I never covered ZMH when he was there. I just hope he's more media and TV friendly than Tobin who has kept a very low profile. Despite repeated invitations, he hasn't done an interview with me or appeared on CNBC in years. Over Tobin's decade-long reign BSX shares have been cut in half. ZMH shares more than doubled under Elliott. Investors are clearly hoping he can do that again.

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