Med device firm, Boston Scientific Corp braces for $119M in settlements


Boston Scientific Corp., the state’s largest locally owned medical device company, cited legal expenses and currency rate fluctuations as it reported a first-quarter loss yesterday and cut its sales outlook for the year.
The Marlboro company also said yesterday it was settling 2,970 product-liability lawsuits at a cost of $119 million. In all, more than 24,000 suits and claims have been filed by women who have said that Boston Scientific’s transvaginal mesh products, used to treat incontinence, caused pain or internal damage.
“As with any litigation, we’re continually looking at all our options,” said Kelly Leadem, a company spokesman.
Michael S. Matson, senior research analyst at Needham & Company in New York, said he thinks most investors would prefer that Boston Scientific settle as many of the lawsuits as possible “to put a hard number on the liability.”
“So I think it’s actually a good thing that they have settled these cases,” Matson said. “If they settled the rest at a reasonable dollar amount, I think the stock would react favorably. Investors hate uncertainty and this would give them more certainty around what the damages actually are.”
Shares of Boston Scientific closed at $17.75 yesterday, down 23 cents or 1.28 percent.
The company, which has about 23,000 employees globally and 2,350 in Massachusetts, reduced its sales outlook for 2015 from a range of $7.3 billion to $7.5 billion, to a range of $7.23 billion to $7.38 billion.
Sales for the quarter fell by $117 million due to currency fluctuations, partly causing revenue to drop 0.3 percent to $1.77 billion.
“Around 45 percent of their sales are from outside the U.S., and they sell mostly in local currencies,” Matson said. “So if the dollar strengthens, then each unit of foreign currency translates back into less U.S. dollars.”
Anyone dealing in foreign currency also got hurt during the quarter, he added.
“So investors are looking past the currency impacts because it’s not within the company’s control,” Matson said, “and it’s not specific to Boston Scientific.”
Sales of its implanted defibrillators and cardiovascular stents helped increase revenue by 6 percent, the company said, when adjusted for fluctuations in currency.
“Our results demonstrated continuing momentum,” Leadem said. “We’ve had eight consecutive quarters of growth.”