Without question, the primary focus of every investor this week, including those who are focused on health care, will be Congress' action, or inaction, with regard to the fiscal cliff.
As my Foolish colleague and biotechnology guru Brian Orelli explained just two weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration isn't spared when it comes to budget cuts, which could result in approval slowdown for drug companies with late-stage drugs currently up for a decision.
As Brian also points out, the potential for long-term budget cuts to academic laboratories where drug discoveries are initially made is the real threat to the future of the biotech industry. Although you may see the Affordable Care Act and its 2.3% medical excise tax as one reason medical device companies are pushing their investments overseas, the fiscal cliff could be just as responsible. Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) have both taken action to boost employment overseas, while medical products supplier Stryker (NYSE:SYK) has reduced its workforce by 5% in response to increased taxes across the board.
If you can manage to pull yourself away from the fiscal cliff debates for five minutes, you'll also want to take note of two earnings reports this week from National Healthcare (NYSEMKT:NHC) and AngioDynamics (NASDAQ:ANGO).
The thinly traded National Healthcare could be in for a difficult week, considering that it could be facing a funding cut. As a long-term health-care benefits provider that's dependent on government-sponsored Medicare, one way the government will look to reduce spending could be with reduced Medicare reimbursements. Even with a better patient mix in its most recent quarter, National Healthcare's profits were flat, as revenue slipped 4%. The company plans to do what it can with cost cuts, but that appears to be only a temporary solution. Look for this report on Wednesday.
Finally, AngioDynamics, a vascular and oncology surgical device maker, is set to report its second-quarter results on Thursday, Jan. 3. As I noted in October, AngioDynamics is cranking out some incredible sales growth, but if you remove its recent acquisition of Navilyst Medical, its organic sales performance actually fell 1% year over year in the first quarter. In addition, its recent purchase of Vortex Medical in October shaved off about $0.09 in full-year EPS and added approximately $1 million in revenue for a $15 million purchase. The math simply hasn't added up with AngioDynamics recently, and I'd just as soon keep my distance until we see actual organic, non-acquisition assisted growth.