Shares of Hologic ( HOLX) were among the best-performing health-related stocks Wednesday, rising 20% after the provider of digital imaging systems posted third-quarter results that topped Wall Street forecasts.

The company earned $8.2 million, or 36 cents a share, on sales of $74.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 28 cents a share on sales of $70.8 million. A year ago the company earned $3.3 million, or 15 cents a share, on sales of $59.2 million. During the most recent quarter, the company sold 64 Selenia digital mammography systems, up from 37 a year ago. Shares were trading up $7.39 to $44.52.

Aspect Medical ( ASPM) rose 10% after the company reported second-quarter results that were better than expected. The maker of brain monitoring systems earned $1.6 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $18.7 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 5 cents a share on sales of $17.5 million. A year ago the company reported a loss of $376,000, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $13.4 million. Looking ahead, Aspect Medical forecast third-quarter earnings of 7 cents to 8 cents a share on sales of $18.9 million to $19.4 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 5 cents a share on sales of $18.1 million. Shares were trading up $3.11 to $33.66.

Shares of Intuitive Surgical ( ISRG) rose 25% after the company posted second-quarter results that were well above expectations. The company, which makes the da Vinci surgical system, earned $14.8 million, or 40 cents a share, on sales of $52.8 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 21 cents a share on sales of $44.5 million. A year ago the company earned $4.8 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $31.1 million. During the most recent period the company sold 26 da Vinci systems, up from 19 a year ago. System sales, which include da Vinci systems, fourth arms, and Aesop systems, totaled $28.5 million during the second quarter, up from $18.1 million a year ago. On the company's conference call, Intuitive said that it now expects 2005 sales growth of between 40% and 45%, up from previous guidance of 20% to 30%. System sales are now expected to grow by 30% or more over 2004, up from previous guidance of 10% to 15%. Shares were trading up $12.71 to $64.01.

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