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Health Care Winners & Losers: Hansen Medical

Shares of medical equipment makers fell Friday on more weak sales reports as hospitals continue to tighten capital spending while the economic outlook remains dim. Mountain View, Calif.-based Hansen Medical (HNSN) said late Thursday it expects fourth-quarter sales between $7.1 million and $7.4 million, far below Wall Street expectations of $12.2 million.

The company, which sells medical robotic technology used with catheters, cited the economy's effect on customer spending.

Shares fell to $5.60 early in the trading session, marking their lowest point in more than two years.

The announcement follows Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical's (ISRG) Wednesday announcement that fourth-quarter sales rose 22%. The figure also fell short of Wall Street expectations, with the maker of surgical devices citing weak hospital spending. The stock fell $8.79, or 8%, to $101.75 Friday.

Needham & Co. analyst Sameer Harish, meanwhile, downgraded shares of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Cepheid (CPHD) to "Hold" from "Buy," citing a slowdown in sales of the company's genetic testing systems.

"Due to the credit crisis, we believe hospitals may have pushed out GeneXpert and GeneXpert Infinity orders, which were expected to be shipped in the December quarter," he said, in a note to investors.

Cepheid shares fell 64 cents, or 6.6%, to $9.04.

Meanwhile, Needham colleague Ed Shenkan downgraded shares of Bedford, Mass.-based Hologic (HOLX), which makes digital mammography systems, to "Hold" from "Buy," because of similar concerns. The stock fell 68 cents, or 6%, to $10.75 in afternoon trading, but earlier reached a more than three-year low of $10.34.

Elsewhere, shares of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Varian Medical Systems (VAR), which makes radiation therapy systems, fell 3 cents to $32.38.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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