Heart stent maker Boston Scientific posts $272 million Q3 loss

Despite small signs of improvement in the slumping medical device markets, Boston Scientific saw a $272 million third-quarter loss. The company has been aggressively cutting jobs to pare costs.

In fact, Boston Scientific''s loss was reported just two days after it announced 2,300 job cuts; axing around 8 per cent of its workforce. The loss works out to 18 cents per share in the July to September period. In the same quarter a year earlier, the company had a profit of $76 million, or 5 cents per share.

Sales rose just 1 per cent, from $2.026 billion a year ago to $2.048 billion. This represents a slight turnaround from the previous quarter, when sales dipped by 2 per cent. Part of the reason for the loss was $435 million in expenses related to acquisitions and asset sales.

The stock has lost nearly half its value over the past two years, as global sales of Boston Scientific''s Taxus stent fell 22 per cent to $448 million in the third quarter. But outside the US, the company posted an 11 per cent gain in Taxus sales, owing to better-than-expected results in Japan, where the stent was recently introduced.

It is small consolation that the US sales of Taxus declined by ''just'' 38 per cent compared to a 44 per cent sales drop for competitor Johnson & Johnson''s Cypher stent. Taxus and Cypher are presently the only drug-coated stents in the US market, but new rivals are expected to emerge soon.

Stent sales at both companies have been hurt by recent research questioning their safety and effectiveness. But sales of defibrillators and pacemakers, which Boston Scientific acquired as part of its $27 billion buyout of Guidant, rose 13 per cent to $517 million.