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This year's annual meeting of the European Congress of Radiology (ECR), held recently at Vienna, saw a comprehensive line of imaging components showcased by Varian Medical Systems (VAR - Analyst Report).

The exhibits put up by VAR was inclusive of the company’s PaxScan wireless digital detectors, digital image processing systems as well as its full range of X-ray tubes for mammography, fluoroscopy, angiography, cardiology and cone beam CT imaging.

VAR’s share price reached a new 52-week high of $85.50 in mid-day trading on Mar 11, following the end of the four-day event on Mar 10, and continued to hover around this range in the subsequent trading sessions.

The Exhibits

VAR presented several advanced filmless imaging and X-ray tube components at the ECR.

The PaxScan Wireless Radiographic Detectors -- available in two models -- PaxScan 4336W and PaxScan 2530W- are lightweight, cassette-size, portable detectors that can generate superior quality images very quickly. They are designed to provide significant workflow efficiencies to enhance the patient care experience.

The PaxScan 4343CB is an advanced radiography and fluoroscopy panel for universal RF and large volume CBCT applications that delivers high quality X-ray images as well as excellent low-dose fluoroscopic images, showing motion at up to 60 frames per second.

The PaxScan 3024M is a full-field digital mammography detector designed to support rapid image acquisition and tomosynthesis, a method of using X-rays to create a 3-dimensional image of the breast.

The metal rotating G-692 X-Ray Tube was specifically developed for use with flat panel digital detectors used in fluoroscopic applications.   

The MCS 8064 X-ray tube is an anode end grounded (AEG) replacement X-ray tube for the GE LightSpeed VCT scanner offering lower life cycle costs. The MCS-8064 was designed with Varian's experience of manufacturing anode end grounded CT tubes over 20 years.

The Nexus Imaging Software & Workstation is an advanced image processing software and workstation with complete flexibility for processing data from mixed inputs: CCD cameras, legacy image intensifier systems and RF and DR flat panel image detectors. With a streamlined workflow and color touch screen controls, the system is optimized for faster patient throughput, flexibility and increased usability.

Recent Earnings

For the first quarter of fiscal 2014 ended Dec 27, 2013, VAR posted a 5.8% rise in net earnings per share to 91 cents which edged past the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny. With this, the company also met its own guidance of a 6–7% rise in earnings per share to 87–91 cents for the quarter.

Revenues in the quarter escalated nearly 5.0% to $711.5 million, but lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $718 million. The growth was attributable to the continued strong demand for Oncology services and X-ray imaging components.  

The company also saw a strong demand for its new mammography and wireless panels and continued interested in its bundled panel and workstation solutions during the quarter.

For fiscal 2014, VAR expects revenues to grow by 6–8% compared with the earlier guidance of 6–7%. However, the company reiterated its earnings per share guidance between $4.22 and $4.34 for the year. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.29 lies within the guided range.

Our Take

Currently, VAR has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks that are performing well in the medical instruments industry include Cynosure, Inc. (CYNO - Snapshot Report), Natus Medical Inc. (BABY - Snapshot Report) and Syneron Medical Ltd. (ELOS - Snapshot Report). All the three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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