Edwards Lifesciences Earnings: Downer Deja Vu?

After the disappointing earnings preview from Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW  ) on Oct. 8, the actual results seemed like deja vu. The company announced third-quarter results on Friday after the market closed. Earnings were up nearly 35% compared to the same quarter last year. Sales increased 8.5% year-on-year.

Were there any new nuggets to ponder, or were the results only an echo from the preliminary announcement 11 days earlier? Let's take a look.

Trouble across the pond
The sneak peek provided by the company spurred the largest one-day drop for the stock in 12 years. The worst news from this pre-announcement involved Europe.

The official earnings announcement only confirmed what investors already knew: Business in Europe stinks. European sales fell more than 17% compared to third quarter in 2011. Edwards isn't the only medical-device maker reporting European woes. Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) also cited slow growth in Europe in its third-quarter earnings announcement.

Edwards Lifesciences also announced that the negative impact of foreign exchange caused sales to be nearly 6% lower than they would have been otherwise. That's nearly $24 million lost to currency fluctuations during the quarter.   

Sluggish Uncle Sam
Sales in the U.S. for third quarter grew 28.5% compared to 2011. That rate didn't meet the company's expectations, though.

Edwards management expected approval from the Food and Drug Administration for expanding the group of patients who can be treated with its Sapien transcatheter aortic heart valve earlier in the quarter. However, that approval didn't come until the day of the earnings announcement. 

Vacation season also hurt Edwards' third-quarter performance. A full medical team is required for procedures involving its heart valves. When medical staff are out on vacation, the procedure must be delayed. This seasonal effect hit sales numbers harder than the company had expected.

Surprises?
There were no real surprises with Edwards' results since it already provided most of the pertinent information in its preliminary announcement. The company did provide some additional details, though.

Edwards previously indicated that it would make its full-year guidance despite the disappointing third-quarter numbers. The company confirmed this outlook, but it now says that 2012 sales will come in around $1.9 billion -- toward the bottom of its guidance range.

During the conference call following the earnings release, management stated that they didn't feel there were any structural problems with Europe. CEO Mike Mussallem cited 13% growth in Germany. He also indicated that some of the impact in Europe stems from year-end budget constraints. Edwards doesn't foresee further deterioration in the European market at this point.

Looking ahead
The delayed FDA approval for expanded use of Sapien should help the company in the U.S. However, European headwinds probably won't diminish appreciably over the near term.

In addition, Edwards faces the prospect of increased competition. Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX  ) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ  ) plan to roll out competing heart valves. Perennial rival Medtronic (NYSE: MDT  ) continues to challenge Edwards, including in the courtroom over patent disputes.

I'm bullish on Edwards over the long run, though. Europe will recover at some point. Edwards' financials look solid. My prediction is that we won't sense any deja vu by the first quarter of 2013.

While Europe's issues continue to negatively impact many U.S. companies, investing in stocks that have strong international growth potential still makes sense. Profiting from our increasingly global economy can be as easy as investing in your own backyard. Our free report "3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World" shows you how. Click here to get your free copy before it's gone.

Fool contributor Keith Speights has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intuitive Surgical, Medtronic, and St. Jude Medical. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Intuitive Surgical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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