UPDATE 2-Boston Scientific cuts profit outlook, shares slide

Mon Oct 19, 2009 9:02pm EDT

* Cuts full-year profit target, citing weak ICD market

* Shares fall 6.6 percent in post-market trading (Adds analyst comments, earnings details, byline)

By Susan Kelly

CHICAGO, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Boston Scientific Corp (BSX.N) on Monday reported a quarterly net profit, compared with a year-ago loss, but cut its full-year earnings outlook, citing weakness in the market for implantable heart defibrillators.

The company's shares fell 6.6 percent to $9.45 from a close of $10.16 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The dampened outlook from Boston Scientific follows on the heels of a profit warning earlier this month by St Jude Medical Inc (STJ.N), a rival maker of implantable cardioverter defibrillators, and weaker-than-expected sales by fellow stent maker Johnson & Johnson.

"We're seeing healthcare companies miss on the top line so far this quarter, so investors are worried about that. Cost-cutting has run its course. Now we're looking for top-line growth, and so far we have a couple of companies that haven't done it," said Edward Jones analyst Aaron Vaughn.

Boston Scientific said its third-quarter net income was $200 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $62 million, or 4 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding restructuring and other special charges, the Natick, Massachusetts-based company said it earned 19 cents a share in the latest quarter.

Vaughn attributed about 7 cents to amortization, suggesting the company earned about 12 cents a share after adjustments.

According to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, analysts had been expecting a profit of 14 cents a share excluding special items.

Boston Scientific said third-quarter sales rose 3 percent to $2.025 billion. Analysts had been looking for revenue of $2.040 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"It doesn't look good. They missed on the top line consensus. They missed on bottom line on our estimate," said Jan Wald, analyst for Noble Financial Group.

Worldwide sales of the company's cardiac rhythm management products, which include ICDs and pacemakers, rose to $646 in the third quarter from $612 million in the same period a year ago.

Sales of drug-eluting stents, wire-mesh tubes that treat clogged heart arteries, rose to $452 million from $446 million a year ago.

"So far this year, CRM market growth has not been as strong as expected, but our CRM business has continued to grow, and we have not seen the slowdown in hospital stocking described by St Jude," said Boston Scientific Chief Executive Ray Elliott.

Wald said sales of drug-eluting stents were below expectations, while it appeared the CRM market is slowing.

"They're still growing, but the market has slowed. They may have maintained the same market share, but they're not generating the revenues," Wald said.

Boston Scientific lowered its full-year earnings outlook, adjusted for special items, to a range of 75 cents to 79 cents a share. In July, it had forecast adjusted earnings of between 82 cents and 86 cents a share.

It also lowered its full-year net earnings outlook to a range of 43 cents to 48 cents a share, from a range in July of between 47 cents and 53 cents a share.

Tim Nelson, a healthcare analyst with First American Funds, said the lower targets suggest Boston Scientific is anticipating further erosion in sales of its Taxus stent at the hands of Abbott Laboratories' (ABT.N) Promus stent, which Boston Scientific co-markets.

"You have to assume the reason for that is they are anticipating fewer Taxus sales and more Promus sales going forward," Nelson said.

Boston Scientific said its overall sales for the full year were now expected to be in a range of $8.134 billion to $8.234 billion, at the lower end of its previously forecast range. (Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill)

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