Early research said they did a better job than uncoated stents. But recent clinical trial data shows "unclear benefits" of drug-coated stents vs. uncoated stents and other cardiac treatments, says a Morningstar report. As a result, the drug-coated stent market was hit hard, and The New York Times reported last year that U.S. sales dropped by nearly 40% in 2007. Morningstar's Conover says the business is starting to stabilize. Based on clinical trial data, "Xience can gain a good chunk of the market, even though the pie is smaller," he says. The question is how well can Abbott do in a crowded market. J&J and Boston Scientific ( BSX) are long-time players. Medtronic ( MDT) joined in February. Abbott, which began marketing Xience V in Europe almost two years ago, also is competing at home and abroad with an identical stent from Boston Scientific. The Promus stent was approved by the FDA in July. Xience was developed by Guidant, but when Boston Scientific acquired this device-maker, Abbott bought Guidant's vascular products business to help the deal to pass U.S. antitrust review. Abbott also stopped work on a homegrown stent, Zomaxx, because Xience was better.