(STJ) St. Jude Medical Build on Alliance with Abbott Laboratories

St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) recently disclosed its decision to build on its mutual agreement with Abbott Laboratories (ABT) by revealing the long-term Choice Alliance joint venture. This initiative provides St. Jude Medical the opportunity to incorporate Abbott’s drug-eluting stents with its cardiovascular, cardiac rhythm management and electrophysiology offerings.

Both companies have agreed to endorse each other’s products to their respective customers. Further, Abbott has received the rights to promote St. Jude’s RadiAnalyze Xpress Measurement System and the ILUMIEN PCI Optimization System.

This alliance is expected to benefit patient outcomes, as doctors will be able to combine Abbott’s XIENCE family of stents with St. Jude’s optical coherence tomography (OCT) and fractional flow reserve (FFR) know-how to widen the scope of clinical treatments.

Abbott Laboratories is a global manufacturer of a vast array of health care products. Pharmaceuticals, medical and nutritional offerings, including cardiovascular devices, are the core franchises of the company. Within the vascular segment, the XIENCE family of products (Xience V, PRIME and nano) was the worldwide market leader of drug eluting stents in 2011.

St. Jude is consistently producing revenue growth and positive earnings surprises over the past several quarters. We are impressed by its solid fundamentals, healthy growth trajectory, strong product mix, robust pipeline and cost management initiatives.

While a host of new growth drivers (including new products and expansion in emerging markets) are expected to boost results in 2012 and beyond, we remain cautious about increased competition, a still-soft CRM market and the dilutive impact of acquisitions.

Th CRM space continues to thwart St. Jude as well as its peers Medtronic (MDT) and Boston Scientific (BSX). Our long-term Neutral recommendation on St. Jude is in agreement with the short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) retained by the stock.
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