U.S. Markets closed

Staar Surgical rises as 1Q outlook beats estimates

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Staar Surgical Co. jumped Tuesday after the implantable lens maker forecast greater-than-expected sales for the first quarter.

THE SPARK: Staar said late Monday that it expects to report about $18 million in sales for the first three months of the year. That represents growth of 16 percent compared to $15.5 million in the first quarter of 2012, and it's more than Wall Street had expected. Staar said sales of its Visian lens climbed 24 percent.

Analysts expected Staar Surgical to report $16.5 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

THE BIG PICTURE: The announcement suggests sales of the Visian implantable lens will total about $10.7 million. The lens is used to treat nearsightedness and other vision problems as an alternative to Lasik procedures. Sales of intraocular lenses, which are used to replace the eye's natural lenses after cataract surgeries, were about the same as last year. That suggests a total of about $6.4 million.

Staar Surgical said revenue in Europe climbed about 57 percent from a year ago. The Monrovia, Calif., company plans to report its full first-quarter results on May 1.

LCA-Vision Inc., which performs Lasik procedures, has reported declines in Lasik sales volumes for the last three quarters, including a 22 percent drop in the first quarter.

THE ANALYSIS: "First quarter results are a terrific start to the year and mark a reversal of three consecutive quarters of missing Street estimates," said Canaccord Genuity analyst Jason Mills. Mills said the company posted strong sales in Europe and the U.S., and said he would take a more favorable view of Staar if it can attain similar growth in key Asian markets like Japan, Korea, and China.

He maintained a "Hold" rating with a price target of $6.50 per share.

SHARE ACTION: The company's stock advanced 79 cents, or 14.3 percent, to $6.30 in afternoon trading. Earlier the stock rose to $6.67, its highest price so far in 2013. For the past 52 weeks, its shares have traded in a range of $4.96 to $11.33.