) -- All the focus in the healthcare sector has been on the reform effort in the U.S. But let's not forget that overseas factors will play a big role in healthcare performance next year also.
It's not just the global sales of big pharmaceutical companies like
, or the ex-pat participant rosters of managed-care providers like
that make the ex-U.S. story an important one in healthcare.
Rather, one interesting international dynamic in healthcare is the currency trade related to medical technology stocks.
Indeed, the recent weakening in the dollar may not be taken into account in large-cap medical technology shares like
St. Jude Medical
The U.S. dollar is down 16% versus the Euro since March, and trading at its lowest levels versus the euro since August 2008.
Healthcare consultant Leerink Swann, for one, estimates that between 40% to 50% of large-cap medical technology company sales are overseas. Therefore, a weakening dollar can serve as a boon to the med-tech sector.
stands to benefit to an even greater degree, with 60% of its sales outside the U.S., the highest ex-U.S. sales percentage of any of the large-cap med-tech companies.
It's not just the U.S. Dollar/Euro trade, of course, but also the dollar's weakness versus the Yen that has a long-standing relationship to medical technology shares.
A strong dollar earlier in 2009 shaved 450-460 basis points off large-cap medical technology company top lines. In the case of Baxter, that effect was even more pronounced, with 830 basis points shaved off the top line, according to estimates by Leerink Swann.
Leerink Swann sees a big top-line growth, with a currency tailwind coming for medical technology companies in 2010. Using foreign exchange rates as of Dec. 4, the Boston-based healthcare consultant is estimating a potential 250-300 basis point top-line growth boost for large-cap medical technology shares.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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