Shares of Guidant ( GDT) were slumping Tuesday as traders assumed the worst about a short statement on the companies' merger from Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ).

J&J, which has agreed to buy Guidant for $76 a share, or more than $25 billion, said a series of recalls by the Indianapolis medical-device maker this year are serious matters that will continue to be monitored.

However, what created the serious angst among Guidant shareholders was a comment from J&J Chief Financial Officer Robert Darretta, who said during a post-earnings conference call that the company would examine its "alternatives" under the merger agreement.

Guidant's stock was recently losing $6.62, or 9%, to $65.76 in much heavier-than-normal trading.

To this point, J&J has said as little as possible about the Guidant acquisition and the recalls. Some analysts had speculated that J&J might try to lower the terms of the deal, but so far at least, the New Jersey-based health-products titan hasn't changed the original price.

The company wouldn't take any questions about the Guidant pact during the call, but executives say they still expect the Federal Trade Commission to clear the acquisition this month.

J&J's shares were up 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $63.22. Before the market opened, the company posted third-quarter sales of $12.3 billion and earnings of $2.6 billion, or 87 cents a share. J&J's medical devices segment showed the strongest growth.

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