Some business leaders have a knack for turning every company they become involved with into a market-dominating business, richly rewarding shareholders in the process. Steve Jobs, with his performances at Apple
In the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, there are a few such leaders who have the Midas touch, turning every company they put their hands on into gold. They've started up company after company, and each firm either becomes a market leader in its niche or gets acquired. So without further ado, here are three pioneers in those sectors who have founded past and current public companies that have demolished the performance of the S&P index.Frederic Moll
Moll is best known as one of the co-founders of medical device company and Rule Breakers pick Intuitive Surgical
Before starting Intuitive Surgical, Moll successfully ran another medical device company named Origin Medsystems, which was acquired by Eli Lilly less than three years after being formed and was then spun off as part of Guidant.
Today, Moll is the head of yet another medical device company, Hansen Medical
Hansen had its IPO in November of last year and plans to slowly roll out its catheterization device in Europe this quarter. The big market opportunity for robotic catheterization is in the U.S., though, and Hansen plans on beginning sales of the device in the second half of 2007 if it can gain regulatory approval over here. To make a long story short, if robotic surgery is the wave of the future in health care (and Intuitive's da Vinci system is proving that it is), then Moll is the guy you want to follow, and shares of Hansen Medical are worth a look.Alejandro Zaffaroni
Not many founders have the nerve (or ego) to name multiple public companies after themselves. But then again, not many entrepreneurs have been as successful as Zaffaroni in his career with drug delivery start-ups.
Zaffaroni got started by founding ALZA Corporation (see the first two letters of his first and last name in there) in the 1960s. Nowadays ALZA is best known for its transdermal drug delivery technology. After producing the hit pain and nicotine patches Duragesic and Nicoderm, ALZA's history as an independent company ended when Johnson & Johnson
After ALZA, Zaffaroni had stints co-founding some important gene sequencing and combinatorial chemistry companies, such as Affymetrix and the lesser-known Affymax.
In his final act, Zaffaroni founded drug delivery start-up Alexza Pharmaceuticals
As a medical products entrepreneur, Alfred Mann's success is unrivaled. Mann has started or been the head of numerous innovative medical device companies, including MiniMed, best known for its diabetes insulin pumps; Pacesetter, which pioneered cardiac pacemakers; and Second Sight, developer of prosthetic retinas. The companies that Mann has founded could rebuild your body from the feet up and then keep you living well beyond when you might expire without his medical devices.
Riches have come with this success, and Forbes considers Mann one of the 400 richest people in the world. His latest venture is as founder and chief executive officer of the self-named MannKind
While Mann hasn't started turning shares of MannKind into gold just yet, the make-it-or-break-it phase 3 clinical studies of Technosphere are under way, with completion expected in late 2008. MannKind's fortunes in the short run, though, are tied to the success of Exubera, since its sales launch will give an idea of the market potential for inhalable insulin compounds. However, even mediocre Exubera sales might not foreshadow doom for Technosphere, since it does have some potential advantages -- like easier dosing -- that could make it a much bigger hit than Exubera.Follow the leader to market-beating returns
At the Fool, we generally preach the importance of investing for the long term. Regardless of what type of long-term investment strategy you use, finding companies created under the auspices of proven entrepreneurs such as Moll, Zaffaroni, and Mann and then sticking with them for the long run is one path to investing riches. Hansen Medical, Alexza Pharmaceuticals, and MannKind may all experience growing pains (or, possibly, even fail completely) -- but putting your investment dollars in their hands may be a much better idea than investing in other less-proven types of leaders.
Three-time pick Intuitive Surgical, up 160% since we first selected it, has been one of the best-performing stocks for our market-beatingRule Breakers newsletter.
Fool contributor Brian Lawler once founded a very successful ant farm and does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is an Inside Value recommendation. Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson are Income Investor selections. The Fool has a disclosure policy.