Stents Stunt Guidant Sales

Stent revenue falls sharply, while sales of other medical devices jump in the first quarter.
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Thursday unveiled a first-quarter financial report that barely beat Wall Street's consensus opinion but disappointing second-quarter guidance.

Excluding charges, Guidant earned $178 million, or 56 cents a share, on revenue of $934 million. According to Thomson First Call, the consensus prediction was earnings of $175.5 million, or 55 cents, on sales of $928.3 million.

In addition, Guidant provided guidance for its second quarter, suggesting earnings of 54 cents to 60 cents a share and sales of $910 million to $950 million. Both figures were below the consensus Wall Street estimate of 62 cents a share and $967 million in sales.

The company also reiterated its full year projection of sales in the range of $3.75 billion to $3.95 billion and EPS of $2.40 to $2.55. The Wall Street consensus is sales of $3.84 billion and EPS of $2.45.

Applying generally accepted accounting principles, Guidant's second quarter EPS prediction is a range of 52 cents to 58 cents. Its full-year EPS guidance is $2.30 to $2.45, excluding charges totaling 10 cents in the first half of the year.

Guidant's stock was down $1, or 1.5%, to $67.68.

The Indianapolis-based medical devices company said Thursday it was discontinuing its radiation-therapy business, a process that will take about six months, affect 100 jobs, and result in the closing of two Texas plants.

Guidant has been using radiation to treat in-stent restenosis: the reclogging of arteries that have been cleared of fatty deposits and that also have had stents inserted. Stents are wire mesh tubes inserted into arteries to facilitate blood flow after plaque is dispersed.

Guidant said it was exiting this business because drug-coated stents have made a "significant impact" on the overall stent market. These products, also known as drug-eluting stents, release medication periodically and are more successful in reducing reclogging rates than traditional stents.

Two companies make drug-coated stents

Johnson & Johnson

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Boston Scientific

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and they are rapidly taking over the stent market.

Guidant's worldwide stent sales for the first quarter, for example, dropped 22% to $171 million compared to the same period last year. Analysts believe Guidant is about two years away from getting its own drug-coated stent into the U.S. market. The company recently signed a deal to help J&J sell its Cypher drug-coated stent.

Guidant reported better news for some other cardiac care products. Worldwide sales of implantable defibrillators rose 22% to $405 million, and the U.S. component grew 19% to $324 million. Worldwide pacemaker sales rose 13% to $180 million, but the U.S. segment only added 3% to $104 million.