Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Report

, reporting what will likely be its final results as a stand-alone company, said sales for the first three months of the year edged up from the 2005 quarter to the highest total in its history.

Going forward, Boston's financials will look markedly different, because the company is nearing the completion of the acquisition of

Guidant

(GDT)

, the Indianapolis-based heart-device maker it's buying for more than $27 billion.

First-quarter sales overall were $1.62 billion, compared with $1.615 billion in the year-ago quarter. Analysts were expecting sales of $1.6 billion.

All told, Boston Scientific earned $332 million in the quarter, which amounts to 40 cents a share after including charges of 3 cents a share for stock-based compensation expenses and 3 cents for the termination of a gene-therapy trial.

The company earned 42 cents a share in the year-earlier quarter, including a 9 cent charge for acquired research and development.

Boston said Tuesday that worldwide sales of its Taxus drug-coated stent totaled $633 million in the first quarter, down from $686 million a year ago but up 4% from the most recent fourth quarter.

Stents are small tubes that are surgically inserted in arteries that have been cleared of blockages. The Taxus and some other stents are coated with drugs that are meant to prevent the artery from reclogging.

"It was a very good quarter," said Boston Scientific spokesman Paul Donovan. "We beat Wall Street consensus estimates for revenue, and we believe we met them for earnings," excluding certain charges, he said.

Jim Tobin, the company's president and chief executive, said the "performance provides a solid foundation for our acquisition of Guidant, which we expect to close shortly."

Boston's shares rose 33 cents, or 1.5%, to $21.81.

The Natick, Mass., company is paying $80 a share for Guidant after prevailing in a bidding war with New Jersey's

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

. Those two waged a monthlong battle that ended in January when J&J, Guidant's original suitor, declined to match Boston's highest offer.