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Edwards Lifesciences' Solid Pipeline, Product Suite Impress

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On Apr 11, 2016, we issued an updated research report on Irvine, CA-based molecular renowned heart valve manufacturer – Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (EW - Free Report) . The company deals in products and technologies aimed at treating advanced cardiovascular diseases, especially structural heart disease in critically ill patients.

Edwards Lifesciences ended 2015 on an outstanding note, with its fourth quarter numbers squarely beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The upward revision in EPS and sales expectation for 2016 further raises investors’ optimism. However, currency headwinds continued to hamper Edwards’ results, reducing fourth quarter sales by $35 million.

We believe that the huge untapped potential in emerging markets is likely to act as a positive catalyst for Edwards. This is reflected in the strong 5.2% underlying sales growth achieved at constant exchange rate in Rest of the World and 7.9% in Japan during the fourth quarter. Among the emerging nations, management believes the market in Japan will be worth $300–$400 million in 2019, given favorable market conditions and reimbursement options.

The company is flourishing in the developed markets as well. In Europe, as per management’s estimate, Edwards’ overall therapy adoption grew over 20% in the quarter. Edwards also witnessed strong growth across most countries and more dispersed total procedures through the European Union.

The company also boasts a strong pipeline expansion strategy. During the quarter, Edwards submitted the PMA in support of the FDA approval of its rapid deployment INTUITY Elite valve and expects to launch it in the U.S. in mid-2016, as estimated earlier.  In the meantime, given the strong adoption and success of its SAPIEN 3 valve in the U.S., Edwards earlier rescheduled the launch timing of CENTERA, and now plans to launch it in Europe in 2017, instead of the earlier planned schedule in 2016.

Edwards also expects its SAPIEN 3 intermediate risk continued access program to continue in the U.S. until commercial approval is received. Assuming favorable intermediate risk data, the company plans to use the U.S. data for a CE Mark submission in Europe.

On the flip side, management expects no near-term respite from the clasp of weakening foreign currency that has been hampering its operational results. This is evident from Edwards’ projection that its full year 2016 sales will be negatively impacted to the tune of $55 million on account of currency headwinds. Moreover, competitive headwinds as well as reimbursement pressure continues to pose threats to the stock.

Currently, Edwards carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Key Picks in the Sector

Some better-ranked stocks in the medical sector are Orthofix International N.V. (OFIX - Free Report) , LeMaitre Vascular, Inc. (LMAT - Free Report) and Baxter International Inc. (BAX - Free Report) . While Orthofix sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), LeMaitre Vascular and Baxter hold a Zacks Rank #2.

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