U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 40 mins

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories, Cyberonics, Given Imaging and Aflac

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 14, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Boston Scientific (BSX), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Cyberonics Inc. (CYBX), Given Imaging. (GIVN) and Aflac Inc. (AFL).

Get the most recent insight from Zacks Equity Research with the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5513

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

BSX Stent Tops Abbott's

Boston Scientific’s (BSX) recently released endpoint data of a clinical trial showed the impressive results of the company’s Promus Element Everolimus-Eluting Platinum Chromium (PtCr) Coronary Stent System over its major peer Abbott Laboratories’ (ABT) Cobalt Chromium (CoCr) Xience V Everolimus-Eluting Coronary Stent System.

This was a huge achievement for BSX. The data, which was tracked for a period of three years, was presented in the American College of Cardiology in San Francisco. The report reflects the efficiency of Promus Element over Abbott’s Xience V over that period of time.

The 3-year trial reported a 3.5% target lesion revascularization (TLR) rate for the Promus Element Stent, compared to 4.9% for the Xience V Stent. Moreover, keeping at par with the company’s earlier data, the trial result portrayed that unplanned stenting has been significantly reduced with Promus Element compared to Xience V including a significantly lower rate of inadequate lesion coverage. A separate data showed improved blood flow through Promus Element as it has less vessel straightening characteristics compared to Xience V.

The drug-eluting stent business in the U.S. continues to witness challenges of pricing pressure, lower procedural volume and lower penetration rates. Global sales of the coronary stent system (within Interventional Cardiology) declined 12.6% to $333 million. The downside was due to disappointing performances of the drug-eluting stents that declined 12.4% to $312 million and the bare-metal stents that plunged 16% to $21 million.

However, Boston Scientific is resorting to all available means to return to growth. The company has a strong pipeline of products under development, the launch of which should drive the top line. Last month, BSX received CE Mark approval for the Promus PREMIER Everolimus-Eluting Platinum Chromium Coronary Stent System. Subsequent to the approval, the company has been working on the European market launch of this next-generation durable polymer drug-eluting stent.

We also note that Boston Scientific is striving to penetrate the emerging markets, including India, Brazil and China, with its Element platform. The company expects this to continue to accelerate growth through the end of the current fiscal. We expect these factors to benefit the company over the long term. With approximately 4 million people across the world suffering from cardiovascular disease and being treated with stents, Boston Scientific is optimistic about delivering better numbers in the upcoming quarters.

Boston Scientific now carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other medical device stocks worth a look are Cyberonics Inc. (CYBX) and Given Imaging. (GIVN). Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Aflac Downgraded to Strong Sell

On Mar 12, the Zacks Investment Research downgraded Aflac Inc. (AFL) to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Why the downgrade?

Aflac has witnessed sharp downward estimate revisions after reporting disappointing fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results. Shares of this life and health insurer are likely to continue fluctuating given the absence of any major growth catalyst in the near future.

On Feb 5, Aflac reported fourth-quarter 2012 operating earnings per share of $1.48, which came in line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate and were slightly ahead of $1.45 recorded in the year-ago quarter.

However, total revenue of $6.38 billion fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6.61 billion, although it rose 6.6% from the prior-year period. An unfavorable dollar/yen exchange rate and the low-rate environment marred most of the upside.

Alongside, higher operating expenses and strong sales of low-margin general health products in Japan have moderated the improvement in benefit ratio, which adversely affects the margins.

Further, Aflac’s indulgence in de-risking activities has shifted its portfolio toward investments with less risk and lower yields, which will further lessen investment income. Management’s guidance also reflects difficult comps and continuation of the sluggish growth period in 2013.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 decreased 6.0% to $6.39 per share over the last 60 days, with all 14 estimates being revised downward. For 2014, 7 of 17 estimates were revised downward, over the last 60 days, sinking the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4.8% to $6.91 per share. No upward revisions have been witnessed for both the years.

 Want more from Zacks Equity Research? Subscribe to the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5515.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today: http://at.zacks.com/?id=5517

About Zacks

Zacks.com is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leon Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at http://at.zacks.com/?id=5518.

Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339





Read the analyst report on BSX

Read the analyst report on ABT

Read the analyst report on CYBX

Read the analyst report on GIVN

Read the analyst report on AFL

Zacks Investment Research

More From Zacks.com