UPDATE 2-Edwards profit up as heart valve sales accelerate
* Q4 profit of 90 cents excluding items tops analysts' 77 cents view
* Company backs its full-year profit and sales outlook
* Shares rise less than 1 percent in after-hours trading
Feb 4 (Reuters) - Edwards Lifesciences Corp on Monday posted fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations on strong sales of its artificial heart valve that is implanted in a less-invasive procedure than open-heart surgery.
The medical device maker said sales of the new valve, called Sapien, surged more than 72 percent in the quarter.
For patients with diseased heart valves, the Sapien product offers an alternative valve replacement method to open-heart surgery in which the patient's breastbone is cut open and the heart temporarily stopped. Doctors expect minimally invasive valves to eventually become the standard of care.
Edwards gained U.S. approval last fall to sell the Sapien valve for use in a wider group of patients. It also won approval for a second delivery approach involving an incision through the ribs. The initial product launch in 2011 included only inoperable patients, for whom the valves were threaded to the heart from the femoral artery in the leg.
"The quarter certainly shows this is gaining momentum in the United States," said Jefferies & Co analyst Raj Denhoy.
Edwards said fourth-quarter net income rose to $91.1 million, or 77 cents per share, from $63.1 million, or 53 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding special items, the Irvine, California-based medical device maker reported a profit of 90 cents per share, compared with 62 cent per share, a year ago. Analysts had expected Edwards to earn 77 cents were share, excluding special items, according Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fourth-quarter net sales increased 18.7 percent to $510.5 million. Sales of the company's less-invasive transcatheter heart valves climbed 72.8 percent in the quarter, to $161 million, driven by the ongoing U.S. launch of the Sapien brand valve. U.S. transcatheter valve sales were $80.7 million.
Edwards said it continues to expect a full-year profit of $3.21 to $3.31 per share excluding items, on sales of $2.1 billion to $2.2 billion. Analysts had forecast a full-year profit of $3.27 per share on sales of $2.14 billion.
Edwards' shares rose less than 1 percent to $93.75 in after-hours trading from a close of $93.06 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.
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