Yes fellow Spineophiles, its that time again, when Santa comes down the chimney with echoes of "Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa's got to go, he's got to bring toys for l'il girls and l'il boys." As we rapidly approach the end of another year in the wacky world of spine its time for TSB to look at the winners and losers for 2011.
January brought us a deep freeze, depending on where you were. Though these companies were use to warmer climates, revelry played out for Cardo Medical and Facet Solutions. Cardo couldn't get out of their own way, the blind leading the blind, attempting to capitalize on its acquisition of Vertebron, laid this dog to rest once and for all, while Facet Solutions was gobbled up by Globus Medical, aka, when will they go public, for pennies on the dollar.
February had Nuvasive cautioning analysts' that the winds of change were coming, inevitably experiencing a smack down by the marketplace and the Street. Even Bill Walton wasn't capable of posting up Lukianov considering that even with XliF, Walton is running on bad wheels. Thank goodness that Memphis is winning at the box office, considering that the stock has been a chihuahua lately, hey Yoquero where's the chalupa? Can I hear $11 dollars? By the way, for all of those drinking the kool-aid, it is purple isn't it, spare us the complaints of NuVa bashing, it is what it is, a one trick pony, is all that horse can do, it's a one trick only, it's the principal source of their revenue.
March came in like a lion when DMT better known as "no motion" experienced a capital crunch, along with Applied Spine being sold to Rachiotek for pennies on the dollar. Love Panjabi, but his advisors and investors should've been fired a long time ago. It was during the Ides that the first shot was really fired at INFUSE putting the holy grail of biologics under the electron microscope. March entered riding the lion, but left like a lamb.
April brought us headline news with Dr. Makker and Sundaresan making the cover of various media outlets with questionable practices, while Zimmer and Wright Medical made their own news announcing the hiring of Paul Graveline and the resignation of Gary Henley as CEO, but the big story in spine was the pending acquisition of Synthes by J&J. Will the arbeitsgemeinschaft osteosynthes fragen ever be the same? Synthes was always more Armani than Brooks Brothers, at least during yesteryear, today, they should fit in well considering that the company was and is run by a pharma dweeb who looks at salespeople as a necessary evil.
May had Larry Biegelsen, a Wells Fargo analyst touting that the acquisition of Synthes by J&J could benefit Zimmer, well Larry, don't want to disappoint you, but we're still waiting, and waiting, and waiting. Medtronic announced and initiated layoffs, while John Viscogliosi hit the road entering Centinel Spine in every Bar-B-Que contest East of the Mississippi. Wasn't he running a spine company? The NJ State Board of Medical Examiners levied civil penalties against Drs. Errico, Balderston and Goldstein for failing to disclose to their institution their financial interest in ProDisc using the widely held Jon Corzine defense, it was merely an oversight. But the big story in May was the resurgence and advocacy of POD's. It's truly a shame that surgeons can't earn a living being surgeons, they now insist on being salesmen, c'est la vie. The silicon chip inside Tony Koblish's head finally switched to overload and Orthovita was sold to Stryker for $316 mil in cash. You know what Henry Butler of The Three Kings sang, "let the good times roll." It
was in May that we poked fun at our favorite whipping boys, the stock analysts' of the device world. Where are those smart guys? As ATEC stock continues to plummet it's awfully quiet on the home front. In May we announced 20% is a thing of the past, unless you're a POD, and everyone was tightening their belts leading to a year of fiscal austerity in spine.
June had TSB announcing the departure of Mike Mogul from Stryker, and a Federal Appeals Court overruled that the trial judge from the First District Court in Boston had applied the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute too strictly in the Whistleblower case against Blackstone. Poor Orthofix, talk about being kicked in the nuts, they like paying their executives wonderful bonuses, maybe its time they settle this suit and move on to better things, just like Medtronic did this week. Ortho-fix should just clean up that dog of a spine division formerly known as Blackstone, SUCKERS!!!! Norian was sold to Kensey Nash and TSB announced that there would definitely be jail time after the verdict in the Trial of the West Chester Four. The Guyer Family experienced their own loss when Jeff Guyer passed away in June. Hopefully, the Guyer's will have a peaceful holiday season. POD's and attacks on sales people become the topic du jour and Ortho-fix announced the resignation of Alan Milanazzo whereby TSB provided the play by play of that stellar career.
July brought us the Spirit of Edgar Dawson and the ghost of Marshall Urist and many of our readers responded with passion regarding BMP's. Synthes and Globus entered into the ring for another suit. Could this have been Wyss' parting shot at David Paul? The FDA issued a warning label to AlphaWreck for PureGen resulting in pink slips in the Biologics Division at d'Wreck. July was quiet as it usually is.
August had us asking the question whether technology was distracting the Art of Surgery. Even Jack White formerly of the Raconteurs and White Stripes commented that technology may make things easier, but, does it takes away from man's creativity? Once again, it takes an artist to shed some reality on the facts of life. Are we training a generation of surgeons that will lack the necessary skills to know how to operate? That was the six million dollar question that a veteran of surgery posed. Once again, the market for spine was down graded. Rachiotek and Yale University filed suit against everyone's whipping boy, Globus when it comes to law suits. Synthes, Medtronic, Rachiotek? TSB could hear Sonny and Cher in the background, "and the beat goes on, and the beat goes on, the drum keep pounding a rhythm to his brain."
September brought us memories of the Ali-Wepner fight when Medtronic and Nuva geared up for the Rope-a-Dope, while Sharp's and Scripp's hospital systems issued a storm warning on POD's claiming that they were unwelcome at their facilities. Did anything really happen? NuVa took it on the chin and their stock plummeted to 18.65, leaving TSB to ask the question, will they ever see 18.65 again? By the looks of their recent performance, even the analysts' aren't drinking the kool-aid.
October brought us boot camp for the Spine Technology Awards as everyone was polishing their silver and putting out their fine China in preparation for that venue. Spinal USA made the Wall Street Journal claiming that they were a legitimate company invoking Jim Pastena to claim, well, that they are a real company, duh! TSB did ask the six million dollar question, where is the innovation? Pedicle Screws, Cervical Plates, Interbody Devices, Biologics, as Clara Peller use to say, "where's the beef?' Then we wonder why hospitals are capping pedicle screws at $500 like Medstar is in Ohio. Olympus made headlines by some nefarious activities that have now garnered the attention of multiple federal enforcement agencies in Japan and the U.S. resulting in the V Brothers getting some unwanted publicity. By the way, what were they doing in the Olympus Booth at the Chinese Orthopedic Associations trade show? Can someone say $14 +$22?
November brought Nuvasive more bad news as its market cap continue to fall faster than a speeding bullet. Where was Superman? Did anyone see him? Word on the Street was the NuVa was taking it from all sides, including losing one its biggest hitters Dr. Cappucino. NASS was another humdrum meeting, David Paul was spotted walking the floor with his bodyguard Tatoo or was that a human troll?
So as we wrap up another year Santa is looking out for those that are naughty and those that are nice. It will be interesting to see where stocks like Nuvasive and AlphaWreck end up. Will they rebound and make those soothsayers, the analysts look brilliant, or will they never rebound? Never rebound? Never rebound? Considering that the market has been over hyped and inflated much of the industry's destiny will rely on the Asia markets. With Europe in a state of flux, there is no telling whether some of us will ever rebound. Could this be the year of the small company, and who will be gobbled up as we wonder who will fall to the way side? So as we wind down the year the question to our readers is, was this a year to lick your chops or lick your wounds? You be the boss.