Leading medtech companies will gather virtually next week to discuss 2021 prospects at the J.P. Morgan 39th Annual Healthcare Conference. The preliminary schedule for the investor event features a who's who of big medtechs, with Baxter, Edwards Lifesciences, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic and Thermo Fisher Scientific are among those set to present on the first day of the event.
Still, J.P. Morgan's own analysts said they expected most companies to hold back from predicting 2021 prospects, given the global resurgence of the coronavirus. Among those most likely to give financial updates are Dexcom and Intersect ENT, they said. For the big medtechs, analysts said Boston Scientific and Baxter could potentially pre-announce 2020 fourth-quarter results.
Players in the COVID-19 diagnostic sector and red-hot liquid biopsy space are also scheduled to present, making the event a chance to assess the state of the whole medtech industry as it tries to move on from a turbulent 2020.
In January, leaders from across the life sciences industry typically gather in San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan event. Companies often use the event to disclose deals, privately discuss possible transactions and give presentations about their operations and prospects for the year ahead.
The switch from a physical to virtual event will prevent the in-person interactions that sometimes lead to deals later in the year, but enable the presentation side of the conference to go ahead in a modified form. Many medtech companies are set to use the event to provide updates.
The first day of the four-day event, which gets underway on Jan. 11, begins with presentations from PerkinElmer and Zimmer Biomet. By the time the event breaks for lunch, 10X Genomics, Atricure, Baxter, Dexcom, Edwards, Guardant Health, Hologic, Medtronic and Philips will have presented.
In the afternoon, Illumina, which typically uses the event to disclose new products and preliminary fourth quarter results, will give its presentation. Adaptive Biotechnologies, J&J, Myriad Genetics and Thermo Fisher are also set to present on Monday afternoon. The first day ends with a digital health panel.
Day two of the event features even more medtech companies. One track of the conference is wholly focused on medtech on the second day. Abbott, BD and Boston Scientific are among the companies featured on the medtech-focused track. The day-two agenda also features presentations from companies including LabCorp and Qiagen.
Fewer major medtech companies feature on the schedules for day three and, in particular, day four, when attendees typically start to leave the in-person event. The medtech companies presenting on the third day of the event include Intuitive Surgical, Exact Sciences, Quidel and Siemens Healthineers.
The presentations will offer an early chance to gauge the prospects of the medtech industry in 2021, though J.P. Morgan analysts suggested many will want to hold off on financials.
"We suspect few will want to guide for 2021 and will desperately want the extra few weeks until 4Q to get better visibility on trends before providing an outlook," the analysts wrote.
Other companies will talk qualitatively about how their businesses have performed since they last shared updates, particularly in relation to COVID-19.
J.P. Morgan analysts late last year predicted elective care will decline again in the first half of 2021 amid surging coronavirus cases. New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are near record levels, with the potential for mixing over the holidays to exacerbate the situation in the coming days. Hospitals began canceling procedures when the national case count was far lower than it is today. Europe is facing a similar situation, with the new coronavirus strain identified in the U.K. linked to surging case counts that are disrupting routine care.
The U.S., U.K. and other countries are racing to roll out vaccines to bring the crisis under control. The J.P. Morgan analysts expect the vaccination drive to support the return of elective procedures in the second half of the year, although some companies could suffer in that scenario from falling demand for COVID-19 tests.