What happened

Shares of Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) slipped 12.7% in March, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as investors anticipated a slowdown in its business due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Boston Scientific, a maker of devices such as stents and catheters, on Feb. 5 -- when the health crisis remained primarily in China -- predicted delayed medical procedures and supply chain disruptions would hurt business there. At that time, the company estimated the coronavirus in China could have a $10 million to $40 million negative impact on its sales in the first quarter.

Four surgeons are at work in an operating room.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Now that the coronavirus outbreak has expanded, reaching 900,300 cases worldwide, delayed procedures have become a problem for Boston Scientific in countries beyond China. To handle the influx of coronavirus patients, hospitals have postponed non-essential elective procedures. This results in a clear weight on Boston Scientific's revenue prospects for the quarter.

Now what

Boston Scientific provided an update on April 2, saying procedure volumes dropped "significantly" last month as COVID-19 cases climbed. As a result, the company now expects first-quarter revenue growth to be flat to slightly up on a GAAP basis year over year. Boston Scientific predicts a 2% to 3% decline in organic revenue for the period. In an effort to cut costs in case the outbreak continues, all executive officers are taking a pay cut that could last up to six months. Chief executive officer Michael Mahoney is forgoing his base salary, while the other executives are taking a 50% pay cut.

Though the immediate picture looks grim for Boston Scientific, the shares remain a strong bet for the long-term investor due to a track record of increasing annual revenue -- and the promise of newly approved products like the Exalt Model D duodenoscope. Duodenoscopes are used in procedures performed 1.5 million times globally every year to explore pancreatic and bile ducts and treat related conditions. Some investors may use weakness in Boston Scientific now to take a position in the stock and benefit from future revenue growth.

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.