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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) recently announced that it has received approval for the Xience Xpedition Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan. The stent system has been approved for the treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD).

We note that Abbott Labs was expecting an approval for the same and plans to launch Xience Xpedition in Japan later this year. The Xience drug-eluting stent family is an important part of Abbott Labs' vascular business. Abbott Labs has been consistently making efforts for the last three years to innovate its Xience drug-eluting stent franchise (including Xience V, Prime, nano and Xpedition).

Xience nano and Xience Prime were launched in the US in 2011 while Xience Prime and Xience V were launched in Japan in Apr 2012 and Jan 2010, respectively. The launch of Xience Xpedition in the US in Jan 2013 and its approval in Japan will further boost the sales potential of the franchise.

Another promising device for CAD in Abbott Labs’ kitty is Absorb. Last month, Abbott Labs initiated a randomized controlled study in Japan to evaluate Absorb, its bioresorbable vascular scaffold (BVS) device, in patients suffering from CAD.

The vascular business is an important part of Abbott Labs’ product portfolio. The company is continuously working to boost its vascular products portfolio and expects to launch several products in the next five years. We believe the launch of new products should help Abbott Labs combat the decline in vascular sales due to pricing pressure.

The vascular business generated sales of $742 million in the first quarter of 2013, down 7.7% from the year-ago period. Of the total vascular sales, approximately $387 million came from the sale of drug-eluting stents and the BVS product portfolio.

We expect the continued uptake of Xience Xpedition in the US along with the expected launch of Xience Xpedition in Japan later in 2013 and traction in Absorb device should drive growth in the vascular business in the upcoming quarters.

We note that Boston Scientific (BSX - Analyst Report) also has an everolimus-eluting stent platform.

Abbot Labs currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Right now, Baxano Surgical, Inc. (BAXS - Snapshot Report) and LeMaitre Vascular, Inc. (LMAT - Snapshot Report) look attractive with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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