Edwards Lifesciences Corp (EW), Medtronic, Inc. (MDT): Recent Aortic Valve Events that You Should Understand

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Aortic stenosis is a type of heart disease involving a narrowing of the valve between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta, or the aortic valve. According to the American Heart Association, about 0.4% of Americans have aortic stenosis, and the frequency of cases increases with age. About 2.8% of Americans aged 75 and older have moderate to severe aortic stenosis. Of those with severe symptoms, around 40% undergo some form of aortic valve replacement.

The most common form of aortic valve replacement involves a dangerous open heart surgery to replace the valve. For anumber of reasons, patients are unable or unwilling to have their chest cut open and heart stopped to have a valve replaced. This is where transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) comes it.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW)Good, but Wall Street expected better

The biggest player in the TAVR market is easily Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW). Its overall transcatheter heart valve segment reported first-quarter 2013 sales of $169.7 million, up 39.7% from the first quarter of 2012. Net income jumped 123% over the same period, from $65.1 million in the first quarter of 2012 to $144.9 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Despite seemingly positive results, the company’s share price plummeted about 22% after Edwards issued full year 2013 earnings-per-share guidance of about $3.05. The figure was about 7% below the average analyst estimate of $3.27.

Overreaction equals opportunity

If you’re thinking overreaction, you’ve got something in common with Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW)’s Chairman and CEO Michael Mussallem. He wasn’t too bothered with the plunge. On May 15, he bought 70,283 shares of Edwards on the open market at $71.14 per share. I imagine his steadfast faith in the company was bolstered by positive post-approval results to be released a week after the earnings announcement.

Positive results

On May 21, Edwards released one-year data from the European post-approval study of its Sapien XT transcatheter aortic heart valve. The data included 2,688 consecutively enrolled patients at 93 TAVR capable medical centers across Europe.

The results show one-year survival rates of TAVR patients using the Sapien XT valves are similar to those of open-heart valve replacement. The important takeaway is that doctors should be just as if not more likely to recommend a TAVR using an Edwards device as they would an open heart valve graft.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW) sales of transcatheter heart valves grew 39.7% year on year from $121.5 to $169.7 million during the three months ended March 31. That figure should continue to grow provided the company receives further regulatory approvals for various surgical methods and patient profiles.

The competition

Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT) is hot on Edwards’ heels with its CoreValve devices. Edwards has tried to slow the Minneapolis-based company’s encroachment into its territory with patent infringement lawsuits. So far just one suit has been successful. According to Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT)’s first-quarter 2013 10-Q, it “recorded an expense of $245 million related to probable and reasonably estimated damages for this matter in the second quarter of fiscal year 2013, of which $84 million was paid on February 28, 2013.”

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