Guidant, Boston Deal Closer to Finality

Separately, Guidant's first-quarter revenue is better than Wall Street expected.
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Boston Scientific

(BSX) - Get Report

said it reached an agreement with the staff of the Federal Trade Commission that resolves all of the antitrust concerns about its planned merger with fellow medical-device maker

Guidant

(GDT)

.

The agreement requires final approval by the FTC's commissioners.

Separately, Guidant said Wednesday that its sales for the first quarter dropped from last year, but still came in better than Wall Street had expected.

Guidant, an Indianapolis-based seller of stents and defibrillators, said after the close of trading that its quarterly revenue was about $894 million, 6% below the year-ago period but up 8% from the most recent fourth quarter.

In the U.S., implantable defibrillator sales are estimated to have been $308 million, while worldwide sales were $419 million, declines of 16% and 12%, respectively, from a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting sales of $879.4 million in the quarter. The consensus profit estimate is 34 cents a share.

For Guidant, which was beset by recalls in 2005, any news at this point is likely to have only a marginal effect on its stock, owing to the fact that Boston Scientific expects to close its takeover of the company later this month.

The same can't be said of

St. Jude Medical

(STJ)

. That company announced

disappointing preliminary revenue and earnings Tuesday, citing lower-than-expected U.S. sales of its implanted defibrillators. St. Jude's stock tumbled 12% in the wake of the warning, and concerns about growth rates at other device makers led to weakness in their shares.

Medtronic

(MDT) - Get Report

, for instance, fell 1.6%, and Boston Scientific shed 2%.

Guidant expects to record a number of pretax charges in the quarter related to product-liability costs, employee-retention programs and merger expenses. The company will also have a $15 million charge following the

decision not to ship its inventory of Xience V drug-coated stents. The stents weren't manufactured in a way that met the company's quality standards, Guidant said last week.

Additionally, Guidant will take a charge of $40 million for a milestone payment to heart-surgery technology company AFx and a pretax expense of $67 million to $77 million from the accelerated vesting of restricted stock awards after its shareholders approved the merger with Boston Scientific.

Boston Scientific agreed in January to buy Guidant in a deal worth $27 billion, or $80 a share, after winning a bidding war with

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

.

However, because the merger didn't close by March 31, Boston is paying for each Guidant share an additional 1.32 cents in cash for every day the completion is delayed. The payments amount to about $4.5 million a day.

Boston's shares gained 1.9% to $22.10 in late trading. Guidant tacked on 1% to $77.50.