What happened

Shares of Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS), Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN), and ShockWave Medical (NASDAQ:SWAV) all dropped by double digits in early-morning trading on Thursday. As of 11:53 a.m. EDT, these healthcare stocks were down 7%, 9%, and 13%, respectively. 

So what

The declines do not appear to be linked to anything that the companies themselves have done. There were no press releases issued today, and none of these businesses filed anything with the SEC. No Wall Street analysts hit these companies with a downgrade, either.

That makes it likely that these growth stocks are simply being dragged down by another day of huge declines in the markets. The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial, and Nasdaq all dropped at least 5% in early-morning trading over the growing panic related to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Man in suit holding a smal bear statue

Image source: Getty Images.

As of Wednesday, the Dow officially crossed into bear market territory. If these early-morning losses hold, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq could soon be there, too.

Now what

Exact Sciences, Align Technology, and ShockWave Medical are all growth stocks that investors awarded high valuations in the very recent past. During bear markets, growth stocks tend to fall at a faster rate than the overall market, so it isn't surprising to see that these stocks are declining so rapidly today.

While there's no telling where the companies' stocks might be headed next, investors do have a good idea of what these businesses hope to accomplish in 2020.

In 2019, Exact Sciences grew its revenue by 93% to $876 million, which is a stellar performance. Part of that growth was driven by last year's acquisition of Genomic Health, but the company's flagship Cologuard testing product is also growing quickly. For the full year of 2020, management is guiding for revenue to land between $1.61 billion and $1.645 billion, which represents growth of 86%. That's a number that should please any growth-focused investor.  

Align Technology also had a prosperous 2019. Sales grew 22% to $2.4 billion thanks to strong demand for its Invisalign retainer system, and EPS expanded 12%. Align's management doesn't give full-year guidance, but it did call for revenue to grow at least 12% in the first quarter of 2020. This business is highly profitable and still has plenty of room to run.

ShockWave Medical is the fastest-growing company of the three. Revenue soared 250% in 2019 to $42.9 million, a clear sign that demand for its intravascular lithotripsy (IVL) system is taking off. ShockWave guided for revenue to land between $74 million and $77 million in 2020, which would represent growth of 72% to 79%. I personally wouldn't be surprised to see the company do even better than that. 

It's impossible to predict when the novel coronavirus outbreak is going to come to an end, and it's just as hard to foretell when this bear market is going to bottom. However, if you still believe that these high-quality medical device companies can continue to grow for many years to come, you shouldn't let the recent volatility scare you out of owning them.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.