Guidant Tops Estimates, but Sees Tough First Half

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Medical devices maker

Guidant

(GDT)

reported fourth-quarter earnings today that beat Wall Street's lowered estimates by a penny, but the company also said the first half of fiscal 2001 could be "challenging."

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Guidant earned $125.6 million, or 41 cents a diluted share, excluding items. The company $112.3 million, or 36 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Twenty-seven analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

estimated that the company, which is based in Indianapolis, would earn 40 cents a share.

Guidant posted fourth-quarter revenue of $648.8 million, up 13% from $576.1 million in the same quarter a year ago.

In a press release, the company said "we anticipate some challenging comparisons in the first half of the year, but should be well positioned for growth acceleration in the last two quarters of 2001." Guidant projected double-digit earnings growth "that slightly exceeds" sales growth for fiscal 2001.