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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report) recently announced that it received CE Mark in Europe for its drug eluting stent – Xience Xpedition 48 Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System.

Xience Xpedition 48 is the latest addition to Abbott Labs’ Xience drug-eluting stent franchise. The product is designed to enable treatment for very long blockages in the vessels that supply blood to the heart due to coronary artery disease (CAD).

The Xience drug-eluting stent family is a core part of Abbott Labs’ vascular business. We note that Abbott Labs has been consistently making efforts to innovate its Xience drug-eluting stent franchise (includes Xience V, Prime, nano and Xpedition) over the last three years.

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 further boosted the franchise. Moreover, Abbott Labs expects Xience Xpedition to gain approval in Japan by mid-2013.

The continued uptake of Xience Xpedition in the US along with the expected launch of Xience Xpedition in Japan coupled with other products should drive growth in the vascular business in the second quarter of 2013.

Following the separation of its research-based pharmaceuticals business into a new company, AbbVie (ABBV - Analyst Report), in Jan 2013, Abbott Labs became a diversified medical products company with focus on branded generic pharmaceutical, medical devices, diagnostic and nutritional businesses.

We believe the diversification bodes well for Abbott Labs and should enable the company to counter the challenging business environment in 2013 as a result of austerity measures undertaken by developed markets in 2013 coupled with weak economic conditionsand a mixed global economy.

Abbott Labs currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).  Right now, AtriCure, Inc. (ATRC - Snapshot Report) and TranS1 Inc look well placed with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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