UPDATE 3-Boston Scientific outlook cheers investors; stock rises

Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:04am EST

* Fourth-quarter net income falls to 4 cents a share from 7 cents

* Excluding items, earnings of 11 cents a share match Wall Street view

* Full-year sales seen at $7.05 billion to $7.35 billion

* Plans to cut 900 to 1,000 jobs worldwide through 2013

* Stock rallies 4.4 percent

By Debra Sherman

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Boston Scientific Corp said on Tuesday that it expected to return to top-line growth this year, an outlook that cheered investors, who bid the medical device maker's shares up as much as 8 percent to a 1 1/2-year high.

The company provided the forecast as it posted weaker fourth-quarter sales. It also announced more job cuts this year, a move that had been expected.

Executives said on a conference call that they expected a return to top-line growth in the second half of 2013 after years of weak demand and declining market share.

The company forecast first-quarter earnings of 4 cents to 7 per share. It expects adjusted earnings, excluding charges for restructuring, acquisitions and amortization, to be 14 cents to 17 cents per share, with sales at $1.74 billion to $1.82 billion.

For the full year, Boston Scientific estimated earnings at 29 cents to 37 cents per share. It said it expected adjusted earnings of between 64 cents and 70 cents per share on sales of $7.05 billion to $7.35 billion.

"I think it's realistic," said Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager for the Gabelli Health and Wellness Trust Mutual Fund. "A lot of the headwinds they faced before are starting to stabilizing now."

Shares of Boston Scientific were up 4.4 percent at $7.26 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange after rising as high as $7.43 earlier in the session.

"I'm hesitant to jump 100 percent on the bandwagon, but the positive signals are definitely there," said Leerink Swann analyst Danielle Antalffy.

The company, a maker of heart stents, pacemakers, surgical instruments and other medical devices, said it would cut more jobs this year as part of its ongoing restructuring efforts.

It said it expected to eliminate 900 to 1,000 jobs worldwide through 2013, bringing the total headcount reduction to 2,100 to 2,400 positions from 2011 to 2013.

Boston Scientific employs 24,000 workers worldwide, according to its website.

Executives told a conference call that the cuts would be "centered around corporate functions that are larger than they need to be."

Boston Scientific estimated that the move would result in pretax charges of about $140 million to $160 million. It expects to take pretax charges of $300 million to $355 million for implementing the entire restructuring.

In the most recent quarter, net earnings fell to $60 million, or 4 cents per share, from $107 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier, the company said.

Excluding special items, earnings were 11 cents per share, matching the average estimate on Wall Street, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue dipped to $1.82 billion from $1.85 billion as sales slipped in the interventional cardiology business, which sells heart stents, and in the cardiac rhythm management business, which sells pacemakers and implantable heart defibrillators. Those two businesses make up more than half of Boston Scientific's total revenue.

Sales rose in the company's other smaller businesses, including urology and women's heath, endoscopy and neuromodulation.