CRITERION: Gains without pains? Maybe tackle these sporting injury stocks instead – Stockhead

All Blacks – whatever it takes. Picture: Getty Images
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As nerves mount for players on both NRL Grand Final sides preparing to line up at Staiudm Australia on Sunday night, it’s worth remembering the myriad enterprises that enable sportspeople to leap higher and kick further – while also tending their wounds.
Unlike in the US or the UK it’s not possible for fans to ‘own’ a football team, with the exception of the ASX-listed National Rugby League club Brisbane Broncos (BBL).
With the top 20 holders (including News Corporation on 68 per cent) accounting for 95 per cent of the register, liquidity is miniscule.
Australian Football League clubs North Melbourne and Sydney Swans dabbled with public ownership in the 1980s, with underwhelming results.
Elsewhere on the bourse, there’s no shortage of stocks exposed to the behind-the-scenes activities that enable footballers – and sportspeople in general – to deliver a knock-out performance.
Speaking of such, what better place to start than Cogstate (ASX:CGS), which developed a more reliable concussion test than the old ‘what day of the week is it’ routine?
A must-have device in a club doctor’s toolbox, the Cogstate test is a screen-based tool that can deliver a result within 15 minutes.
Footy codes have several billion reasons to take concussion more seriously, given the size of negligence payouts in the US.
Further refining concussion measurement, HitIQ (ASX:HIQ) listed in June last year on the back of its concussion-detecting analytics that are embedded in a mouthguard.
HitIQ has concussion management and detection tie ups with the AFL, as well as offshore codes including ice hockey, lacrosse, US football and mixed martial arts.
The company is also “exclusive concussion management technology partner” for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on October 15.
In the days of yore, a decent performance used to be known as ‘kicking a bag’ or ‘getting leather poisoning’, but the folk at Catapult Group (ASX:CAT), are more scientific.
Catapult was an early mover in wearable devices that capture players’ performance data for coaches to view either live or post-game.
Having signed up the Hawthorn Football Club as its first client in 2007, Catapult claims a customer base of 3400 professional sporting teams, across 40 sports.
When a player is cruelly felled by a knee or hammy inevitably, the paramedics will reach for the ‘green whistle’, which is not a reference to the umpires’ tools of trade but a device that dispenses the temporary pain killer Penthrox.
Medical Developments (ASX:MVP) owns the rights to Penthrox, a reformulation of methoxyflurane which has been used by ambulance services here since 1975.
Penthrox is now sold in dozens of countries, the US being a notable omission. However, the Food & Drug Administration recently allowed a clinical trial that could pave the way for approval Stateside.
While sport is meant to be nourishing for the body and soul, it’s not exactly the case for knees, shoulders and ankles.
Paradigm Pharmaceuticals (ASX:PAR) is lifting the hopes of superannuated footballers with its anti-inflammatory lead compound to treat knees and joints, pentosan polysulfate sodium (PPS).
While PPS is yet to be approved, it hasn’t stopped dozens of former AFL players using the drug under a special access scheme.
The company this month completed a circa $50 million capital raising, ahead of a global Phase III osteoarthritis trial that will determine whether the drug can be approved.
As with game plans, usually the best medical devices are the simple one. Take Rhinomed (ASX:RNO), which developed Turbine, a simple clip-like device that attaches to the nose and dilates the nostril, allowing athletes (typically cyclists) to inhale more air and fewer banned substances.
While Turbine remains on sale, Rhinomed has since found greater fortunes with variant devices for sleep apnoea and Covid testing.
Not all of these stocks have kicked on – Hitiq is worth a humble $6 million – but it’s not over until the final siren.
This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.
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