Brace-face begone! Align Technology produces and sells the Invisalign system, which corrects malocclusion, or crooked teeth. Instead of using metal or ceramic mounts that are cemented on the teeth and connected by wires (traditional braces), the system involves using an array of clear and removable dental Aligners to move a patient's teeth into a desired tooth alignment. The company markets its products to orthodontists and dentists worldwide. Align also provides training for practitioners to model treatment schemes using its Internet-based application called ClinCheck, which simulates tooth movement and suggests the appropriate Aligner.
Align Technology has administrative and manufacturing locations in Costa Rica, Mexico, Israel, the Netherlands, and the US. Its products are primarily marketed in North America (accounting for three-fourths of sales) and Europe. It also operates in areas of Latin America and the Asia/Pacific and is working to expand sales into Middle Eastern, African, and smaller European countries.
Sales and Marketing
Align Technology sells its products through a direct sales force in North America and select international markets, as well as through distribution partners in other regions. The company primarily markets its products to orthodontist and dental practices, who then commit to sell the products to consumers. It is targeting general practice dentists as a primary sales growth channel, since general dentists have larger patient populations than orthodontists, who traditionally treat malocclusion.
Sales growth within the newer Invisalign Teen, Invisalign Assist, and Vivera product lines, as well as revenues from the new scanner and CAD/CAM services business (added through the 2011 acquisition of imaging systems manufacturer Cadent), led to a 24% increase in revenues (to some $480 million) for Align Technology in 2011. Profits, however, decreased by 10% to $67 million that year due to increased sales, marketing, and compensation expenses (mostly related to the Cadent acquisition).
To stay ahead of potential competitors looking to enter the clear alignment market, Align Technology is working to expand sales of its Invisalign system by increasing the number of dentists and orthodontists that are committed to selling the products. It also increases brand awareness through consumer marketing programs. Geographically, the firm is looking to expand into new markets. For instance, it launched the Invisalign product in China in 2011, and in 2012 it moved into the Russian market and select Middle Eastern markets through an existing distribution partner.
To widen use of its products, Align Technology is also developing new versions and variations of the Invisalign system, as well as tools that make it easier for dentists to adopt use of the Invisalign offerings. In 2011 it launched the Invisalign G4 system, which helps doctors manage treatment of patients with open bite conditions, and in 2012 it introduced the Express 5 system for minor treatment of orthodontic relapse, crowding, or spacing conditions. Some of the company's product development efforts are conducted through partnerships with other medical device firms such as Danaher.
Despite its growth, Align Technology has been conducting restructuring measures to lower its expenses in recent years. To streamline its scanning and CAD/CAM operations following the 2011 purchase of Cadent, the company is consolidating some manufacturing and service facilities.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Align Technology diversified its product line in 2011 by acquiring Cadent Holdings for $190 million. Cadent provides three-dimensional digital scanning services for dentists and orthodontists. The two companies already were working together to develop Invisalign software designed to run on Cadent's equipment.
Danaher owns a 10% stake in Align Technology, down from a 70% interest that Danaher gained in 2009 through a litigation settlement with Ormco unit over a patent infringement disagreement. – less