The Curling Connection

Without question the biggest hit this year at the Olympics has been curling. Although we have long been big fans of curling, it seems the rest of the world is catching curling fever. Let’s face facts how can anyone not get into a game that involves big stones, swifter’s and a doping scandal. And seriously someone needs to explain to us why in heavens name any curler needs to dope. But we digress.

Anyway, we mention this because we see a curling connection with recent developments with our friends at Tandem (NASDAQ: TNDM). Just yesterday the company announced they submitted a medical device license application to Health Canada in the hopes of launching its t:slim X2 insulin pump in Canada in the second half of this year. It just so happens that the Canadians are the odds-on favorite to take the Gold Medal in curling. To us the fact that sports books take action on curling proves it is a real sport, that and the fact you can drink beer and curl at the same time. But again, we digress.

Yet the curling connection does not end there as during ATTD the company announced they had entered into an international distribution agreement which covers Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Yep three huge curling countries. Listen the Canadians may be the odds-on favorite to take the Gold, but we wouldn’t count out the Norwegian team or those pesky Swedes. Ok we keep digressing.

Now these two announcements should not be swept under the rug. As judging by the reaction, shares of Tandem are up over 10% over the past 5 days, people are catching the curling connection. To see how monumental these two announcements are we did a little research. According to the various diabetes organizations in Sweden, Norway and Denmark the Type 1 population in these three curling crazed countries is slightly over 100,000 patients.

In the curling capital of the world Canada the Canadian Diabetes Association states there are 3.4 million Canadians with diabetes which loosely translates into approximately 238,000 with Type 1 diabetes. Yes, we know we aren’t a CPA, MBA or CFA but using our calculator that adds up to about 338,000 potential customers. Actually, we didn’t need a calculator for that as even a group as dim as us can figure that one out. Once again, we digress.

Now just for grins and giggles let’s assume that insulin pump usage in these curling crazed countries is the same as it is here in the USA. And we should note that the USA curling team knocked off the mighty Canadians last night in an exciting match to keep their medal hopes alive. SWEEP!!! Anyway, that means there are about 101,400 insulin pump patients in curling land. However, we should also note that Tandem like the American curling team still needs lots of help if they are to medal.

For they must battle the Canadian equivalent in curling, mighty Medtronic (NYSE: MDT). Just as the Canadian’s are the kings of curling, Medtronic are the kings of insulin pumps. See Medtronic does not just own the insulin pump market here in the USA, they also own it in Canada, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Surprisingly about the only country where Medtronic isn’t winning is France, which when you think about it makes sense as the French are known for guzzling chardonnay, some very fine champagne but not curling.

This fact makes us wonder why Tandem is pursuing this curling strategy. Keep in mind that the company is located in that beautiful city of San Diego which is known for many things, but curling is not among them. Unlike our hometown of Chicago which has a curling bar on top of a swanky Michigan Avenue hotel. But once again we digress.

Yet we do see a method to Tandem’s madness as why not jump on this curling craze. It might be an uphill battle but just as the American curling team knocked off the mighty Canadians perhaps Tandem can knock off mighty Medtronic. Maybe Tandem like the American curling team, who has not brought home a curling medal since a bronze in 2006, can somehow find smooth ice and bring home a medal.

Next up for Team USA curling are matches against Switzerland and Great Britain, to remain in medal connection they must win both matches and then get some help. As Norway and Japan must lose two of their final three matches. Yes, the victory over the mighty Canadians was historic and gives Team USA hope. In that respect Team USA curling is in the same position as Tandem, they have hope but need lots of help to advance. So good luck to both Tandem and Team USA curling – SWEEP!!!!