Astro-Med, Inc. (Astro-Med) designs, develops, manufactures and distributes a range of specialty printers and data acquisition and analysis systems, including both hardware and software. The company's primary foci are avionics and medical equipment - sleep equipment in particular. Although most of the products that Astro-Med makes are not consumer products, the company must go through the long and difficult process of having its products approved by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is a source of uncertainty and concern throughout the healthcare and aviation industry.
Since healthcare products are bought out of necessity rather than luxury, the healthcare products industry is less susceptible to recessions such as the 2008 Financial Crisis. However, the industry is subject to the rapid rise in demand following recessions. However, aviation products are more susceptible to fluctuations in demand. The combination of these two factors have caused a dip in 2009 revenues and a subsequent 10% increase in revenue. 
Developing a new product is a time-consuming and costly endeavor. For healthcare products, hundreds of thousands of designs and prototypes must be screened to identify a handful of potential successes. Even fewer of these candidates are found to be acceptably effective at identifying a disease. The equipment must then pass strict safety standards in several series of clinical trials. Throughout this process, any number of failures can occur. In particular, if the FDA disapproves a certain product, the company's stock may plummet immediately since the Research and Development Expense might have potentially have 0% return on investment or even cause substantial losses.
Changes in health care coverage may impact sales. If an insurance program changes its policies and removes coverage for a certain treatment, less patients will elect to obtain treatment, reducing demand for healthcare equipment and reducing sales for Astro-Med. In general, insurance programs are more likely to cover essential expenses, such as heart disease medication, and less likely to cover nonessential expenses, such as sleep disorders.
Astro-Med's competition stems more from its aviation side than its healthcare products side. On the aviation side, the company competes with the big industrial names such as Boeing Company (BA). The aviation industry is fiercely competitive, and this is no exception. In its healthcare products side, Astro-Med has a niche segment of the market. Most of the competition is from smaller companies such as Natus Medical (BABY) and Welch Allyn. However, JOHNSON & JOHNSON (JNJ) is a major competitor that has released products covering all of the niche markets smaller companies cover.