As we've discussed, 2012 was a difficult year for medtech. The future of Obamacare was up in the air, the American and the European economies hung in the balance, and growth in the BRIC countries didn't live up to expectations. Nonetheless, we made it through and medtech companies, somewhat surprisingly, seem to be feeling good about their prospects for 2013.
A recent survey by the Emergo Group found that more than 70% of respondents were feeling positive about the medtech industry for 2013. But, to be fair, the same survey last year found that 67% of respondents were feeling positive looking ahead to 2012, so maybe they're just an optimistic bunch. This opinion was somewhat reinforced when I saw that even the European respondents had pretty positive prospects for their companies. Granted, only 30% of the European companies felt VERY positive about their company's prospects in 2013, compared to around 40% for the rest of the world, but 80% of European respondents overall still indicated a positive outlook. I'm a bit sceptical until the economy shows real signs of a turnaround our analysts are predicting declines in many European medtech markets for now. Who knows though, maybe these European companies have strong bases in the Asia Pacific region, which everyone is feeling pretty good about at the moment.
Surely the medtech tax dampened perceptions in the US though, right? We can't go two days without seeing an article about how the tax will lead the US medtech industry to a fiery doom. Well or not. Only about 11% and 12% of North and South American respondents indicated that they would reduce headcount or invest less in research and development in response to the tax, respectively. So much for the tax being job killing and ingenuity chilling. In fact, more than 40% of companies surveyed indicated that they would pass some or all of the cost of the medical device excise tax on to their customers. Problem solved! US companies continue to feel good about their 2013 prospects, and everyone is happy well, except for maybe the hospitals, which it can be argued get double-taxed by this approach.

Interestingly, during our quarterly survey of facilities, we found that confidence in medtech decreased in Q4 2012 relative to previous quarters, and remained negative overall. Could it be because they're worried about this double-taxing? Additionally, they might be feeling the effects of parts of Obamacare like accountable care organizations and prepayment audits more keenly than the medtech companies themselves. In fact, this article argues how earnings season told us that the medtech industry is on firmer footing than a year ago.

What do you think of these results? Should medtech companies be excited for 2013. Let us know in the comments.

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