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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) received a boost for its vascular portfolio when it announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its Supera peripheral stent system for the treatment of people with blocked blood vessels in the upper leg caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD).

The FDA approval was supported by encouraging data from the SUPERB trial which showed that the Supera stent was highly effective in opening up blocked blood vessels in the upper leg, even in difficult cases.

Moreover, it was observed that there were no stent fractures during the first year following the treatment with the Supera stent and at two years there was a very low stent fracture rate of 0.5%.

We note that Abbott Labs acquired Supera stent through the acquisition of IDEV Technologies in Aug 2013. The Supera stent already carries a CE mark in Europe for treating blocked blood vessels caused by PAD.

Hence, an approval in the U.S. will further boost vascular sales.  The vascular business is an important part of Abbott Labs’ product portfolio and generated sales of $3.0 billion in 2013, down 1.5% from 2012. The vascular portfolio of Abbott Labs already boasts of drug eluting stents such as Xience series and Absorb.

Abbott Labs is continuously working to boost its vascular products portfolio and expects to launch several products in the next few years. The continued rollout of Absorb and Xience Xpedition along with new products such as Supera stents will further strengthen Abbott Labs’ vascular portfolio in 2014.

We remind investors that Abbott Labs became a diversified medical products company focusing on branded generic pharmaceutical, medical devices, diagnostic and nutritional businesses following the separation of its research-based pharmaceuticals business into a new company, AbbVie Inc. (ABBV - Analyst Report), in Jan 2013.

The business environment was challenging in 2013 due to austerity measures undertaken by developed markets and weak economic conditions elsewhere. We believe Abbott Labs’ diversification in varied business lines will enable the company to counter the challenging business environment and maintain top-line growth.

Abbott Labs currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Shire (SHPG - Analyst Report) and Lannett Company, Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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