'

Why Bristol-Myers dumped its hockey stick

Bristol-Myers Squibb quietly tossed aside a hockey stick this week. The hockey stick is the medical imaging market.

hockey stickBristol-Myers Squibb quietly tossed aside a hockey stick this week.

The hockey stick is the medical imaging market. Recent estimates from BCC Research are the market will grow to $11.4 billion by 2012.

Bristol-Myers Squibb got $525 million for its imaging unit from Avista Capital Partners, which seems to be doing a "roll-up" of smaller players in the space. It also bought units of Boston Scientific this week, for $425 million.

All that sounds like a market that's consolidating, not growing. One reason is doctors are having to fight hard in Washington against cuts for imaging services.

Bristol-Myers is putting the best face on this. "A sleeker image" writes Motley Fool. A "next generation BioPharma company"is the official company line.

It's closing half its plants and laying off 10% of the workers to boost profits. If their next claim is "lean and mean" gag me.

That doesn't sound like a hockey stick to me. It sounds like the slow end of the growth curve. Looking at your imaging bills, are they making the wrong move here?

Compare your own patients' bills for drugs and scans. Which is growing faster? Which sounds like a better deal for the provider?

Given the immense costs of getting new drugs approved, I'd say imaging. But I could be wrong.