Survey: Smith & Nephew again named top European takeover target

The belief that midsized orthopedics player Smith & Nephew ($SNN) will be taken over persists. In spite of takeover rumors that haven't turned out to be true, the company was named the top European acquisition target for the second year in a row in a survey of equity traders and analysts conducted by Bloomberg. Stryker is the most likely buyer. With a market cap of $14.6 billion, Smith & Nephew is the only orthopedics company small enough to be taken over by one of the three orthopedics giants--Zimmer Biomet ($ZBH), Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) DePuy and Stryker ($SYK)--yet large enough to "move the needle." Zimmer's $14 billion takeover of Biomet led to the belief that Smith & Nephew's takeover is inevitable. J&J has shown no interest in Smith & Nephew and recently cut 3,000 employees from its slow-growing device unit, saying it intends to focus on faster growing sub-segments like electrophysiology catheters. The mature market for hip and knee replacements isn't in that category, leaving Stryker as the only logical buyer. And the orthopedics industry is facing increased price pressure from consolidating hospitals, who are driving a harder bargain when it comes to bulk purchase contracts. As a result, investors' belief that a Stryker-S&N deal is inevitable is understandable, in spite of numerous false starts. More