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Medical devices major, St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ - Analyst Report) has launched its latest ILUMIEN OPTIS System for the first time in Japan. This imaging technology is an advanced version of the company’s Ilumien System from the cardiovascular products portfolio.

The ILUMIEN OPTIS System, featuring the unique Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR) and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) platforms, provides cardiologists with comprehensive information to take patient-specific stenting decisions, resulting in better treatment outcomes. Additionally, the device features a three-dimensional vessel reconstruction technology coupled with a unique stent planning software tool, which further enhances diagnostics and treatment strategies.

Japan is a global leader in imaging technology utilization, according to STJ. About 245,000 Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) procedures are performed every year in Japan, out of which, 80% use imaging technology. The Japanese language option available with the ILUMIEN OPTIS makes it user-friendly for the target population.

In 2012, St. Jude’s net sales in Japan increased by 10% to $456 million. The termination of a distribution contract in Japan adversely affected 2012 vascular product net sales by 7% but solid sales and continued market penetration of the Ilumien platform partially offset the decline. Barring the impact of the contract termination, the company’s cardiovascular revenues grew 6% in 2012.

St. Jude expects the cardiovascular business to grow 6%–9% on a constant currency basis in 2013 on the back of a change in sales mix from declining legacy products to high growth offerings. We believe that the launch of the new ILUMIEN OPTIS device in Japan should add to total sales, given its cutting-edge features.

St. Jude has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company’s fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 92 cents (up 7% year-over-year) topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2 cents.

While we remain on the sidelines regarding St. Jude due to softness in the core Cardiac Rhythm Management (“CRM”) business, medical products companies such as Nuvasive (NUVA - Snapshot Report), Abaxis (ABAX - Analyst Report) and CareFusion (CFN - Analyst Report) appear impressive. Nuvasive carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and the other two carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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