“Jim Conway Developed a Better Solution”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, March 26, 2007

I’ve gotten this email myself a few times, and had it forwarded by a few readers — it tells a David and Goliath story about a medical device manufacturer, and it’s trying to sell us on a subscription to Navellier’s Quantum Growth service.

Here’s the basics:

This inventor came up with a better catheter, one that prevented infection, and got it approved by the FDA way back in 1998.

It was clearly a better mousetrap, but the big companies conspired to keep it out of hospitals and they couldn’t get access to the big hospital market — as you can imagine, the straight-to-consumer market for catheters is somewhat limited.

So this inventor, Jim Conway, hired a lawyer (one of many who spearheaded Vioxx lawsuits against Merck).

Eight years later, the big distributors and pharma companies capitulated and paid him $60 million and gave him access to 1,500 hospital accounts.

Which means the company is now profitable … and in Navellier’s words:

“What was recently a $5 stock a year ago is, according to my research, on its way to being a $50 stock in 2007.” (it’s just over $20 at the moment, FYI)

Other tips to confirm the stock, which you may have guessed by now:

It’s up 82% on the year.

It jumped 51% after their last earnings release.

So we put that pile of data and teasers into the great big Stock Gumshoe thinkifying calculatometer … and we discover that …

… this company is …

Rochester Medical (ROCM)

A quick look at the chart will confirm that the stock price movement data matches the tease — and the easy answers are provided by looking at the major holders of the stock, many of whom are in the Conway family. If you want to read a bit more about this one, there’s a nice Forbes article from a couple weeks ago that goes into some more detail on the story.

Is it a good investment? Beats me. The company is very cheap if you look at the trailing PE, though I expect a big part of that is probably the lawsuit money. If they’ve really invented a better catheter and have the capacity to get it out to all those hospitals they now have access to, this might just be a great Peter Lynch investment — buy something that no one really wants to think about, and that is as far from glamorous as you can get. I know I want to read as little as i can about catheters, frankly, it makes me squirm in my seat a bit too much, so I don’t expect I’ll be buying into this one.

Whether or not it’s for you is, of course, something only you can decide … now that the Stock Gumshoe has told you where to look. Best of luck.

A wee update for you on May 3: Rochester Medical got clobbered today and yesterday on disappointing results, so the shares are down dramatically (it had climbed up to $30 three days ago, now it’s at $17). That backward-looking PE of 6 now looks real enticing, though it might pay to notice that the forward PE at this quarter’s run rate would be right around 50 (I don’t think any analysts publish estimates). Just FYI … If you thought it was a bargain at about $22 when I first sleuthed it out, then perhaps it’s more of a bargain now, albeit one that has quite a bit further to go to reach Navellier’s $50 target.