When it comes to keeping healthy, calcium can be both friend and foe.
Like we constantly hear from health officials, our bodies need it to reinforce the structures of our teeth and bones, and it’s a part of keeping our body chemistry working efficiently.
But there’s also a downside to calcium; it can impede the circulatory system, and get in the way of some of the miraculous new high-tech procedures that can offer an alternative to open-heart surgery.
I’ve already found a medical innovator that is solving this problem. Not only do they have an $8 billion market to focus on, but their shares are beating the S&P 500 by 531%, or five times over.
And I’d like to show you why I see it going even further up…
Building Blocks of the Body
Calcium is essential to many parts of our body, and most famously of all, our bones and teeth.
And keeping well supplied with calcium is especially important for older individuals to keep bones dense and strong and to ward off osteoporosis. It’s especially important in the case of a fall, which is a huge risk for seniors.
But calcium protects the mind as well as the body; there’s research showing that calcium deficiency can worsen mood and predispose people to depression and other mental health issues.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, calcium also has some big downsides. It can end up inside the walls of blood vessels, where it stiffens.
That keeps the blood vessel from being able to contract or relax, making the body unable to regulate blood pressure as well.
The stiff calcium deposits in blood vessels also make some medical procedures impossible.
For example, today physicians can replace faulty heart valves without surgery. Instead, they can thread the valve through blood vessels, unfolding them inside the heart.
But if the patient’s blood vessels are narrow from thick deposits of calcium, the procedure becomes impossible.
And that’s where the company I want to tell you about today comes in. It was founded in 2009 by three experts who wanted to adapt the technology used to crack kidney stones to cracking calcium deposits.
Short story: it works. The firm launched its product in 2017 and went public two years later.
The company is ShockWave Medical Inc. (SWAV), named after its ingenious Shockwave product.
See, what the company has done is taken the lithotripsy device that uses pressure waves to break apart kidney stones and adapted it to calcium in blood vessels.
Instead of threading the device’s wire into the bladder or kidney, the Shockwave wire is threaded into blood vessels thick with calcium deposits.
Then, safely inside the wire, electrical current is used to vaporize a liquid, making it expand.
This causes a wave of pressure, a bit like the sonic boom of a jet. This pressure wave, or shockwave, travels out the sides of the wire, into the blood vessel. There it shakes and jostles the calcium deposits loose, so the body can reabsorb them.
The body’s soft tissues are unaffected as the pressure wave goes through them.
The best part is, this technology is tried and true, having been safely used for over 30 years to break up kidney stones. The wire is simply threaded through the bladder into the kidney, and the pressure waves are directed at the stones, breaking them apart.
I believe Shockwave’s repurposing of this technology for calcium deposits in blood vessels is quite ingenious. See, other ways of fixing the stiff blood vessel walls caused by calcium deposits are difficult and sometimes risky.
One alternative is to thread a balloon into the blood vessel and then inflate it. The idea is to push on the blood vessel’s walls from within, enlarging it and allowing more blood to flow.
But a balloon will choose the path of least resistance when it expands, potentially pushing more on the soft tissue, and less on the calcium deposits. That means it doesn’t actually do much, and can even tear blood vessel walls on the border between healthy tissue and calcium deposits.
Another alternative treatment involves blasting the calcium deposits with high heat from within the blood vessel. Unfortunately, this heat also damages the soft tissue of the blood vessel.
Even worse, the large bits of dislodged and burned calcium get released into the bloodstream, where they can cause a blockage elsewhere, leading to heart attacks or strokes.
Shockwave’s solution is much less risky.
Now Wall Street is waking up to the great story here. So far this year, the stock has doubled compared with a 16% return for the S&P. SWAV crushed the benchmark by 531%.
That’s in no small measure due to improving financials. In the most recent quarter, Shockwave’s sales were up 443%.
More to the point, the company almost doubled its earnings per share. This is often an indicator of stock price movement.
If we cut that back by two-thirds, we could see earnings growth averaging a conservative 30% annually.
At that rate, we’d see a double in 2.5 years.
It’s a great example of how even smaller innovations make tech such a fascinating area to follow – and a very lucrative field of investing.
The way that this treatment could clear a path for newer and less invasive alternatives to heart surgery also demonstrates something else; the way that different breakthroughs and innovations push each other along, creating new possibilities for even greater growth and disruption.
That means more opportunity for market-crushing investments as well, and you can hear about many more of them ahead of the curve. Just click here to see what I mean.
Cheers and good investing,
Michael A. Robinson