July 24, 2012 / 8:16 PM / 6 years ago

Edwards Lifesciences profit up on heart valve rollout

(Reuters) - Edwards Lifesciences Corp (EW.N) reported higher-than-expected second-quarter earnings on Tuesday, driven by strong U.S. sales of its new artificial heart valve that is implanted using a less-invasive procedure than traditional open-heart surgery.

The rollout of Edwards’ transcatheter valve, which gained U.S. regulatory approval for use in very ill patients late last year, is picking up momentum. Sales of the device, which is implanted via a catheter that is threaded to the heart through a leg artery or small incision between the ribs, climbed 71 percent in the quarter.

“The number everyone was focused on, the transcatheter valve number, was quite a bit better than we were expecting, and that really is the story for these guys right now,” said Jefferies & Co analyst Raj Denhoy.

Sales of Edwards’ new valve received a boost in May when Medicare, the U.S. insurance program for the elderly, said it would cover the product, which costs about $30,000.

The medical device maker said net income in the quarter rose to $67.8 million, or 57 cents a share, from $58.1 million or 48 cents a year ago.

Excluding special items, second-quarter earnings were 67 cents a share. Analysts on average expected Edwards to earn 65 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales in the quarter increased 11.8 percent to $482 million. Sales of transcatheter heart valves rose 71 percent to $145.8 million, including $61.4 million from U.S. sales of the new Sapien valves.

Edwards pioneered development of the transcatheter procedure, which is a less-invasive alternative to traditional open-heart surgery in which the patient’s breastbone is cut open and the heart temporarily stopped. Edwards is currently the only company with such a system on the U.S. market. Doctors expect minimally invasive valves will eventually become the standard of care.

Shares were little changed in after-hours trading from a close of $98.65 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting By Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Matthew Lewis

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