Abbott Buying OptiMedica for Up to $400 Million

Don't look now, but Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT  ) is about to buy itself a bit more growth.

Simultaneous with its announcement of a $310 million acquisition in the vascular stent space Monday, Abbott also announced that it will be spending a further $250 million -- and perhaps as much as $400 million with subsequent milestone payments -- to acquire privately held cataract surgical equipment maker OptiMedica.

As Abbott explained in a statement, most cataracts today are treated by surgeons making incisions in the eye by hand. OptiMedica, however, has a Catalys Precision Laser System that allows surgeons to perform at least some incisions with computer-guided, "femtosecond" laser technology. Abbott notes that the system in question is cleared for sale in both Europe and the U.S. already.

Abbott puts the size of the global cataract surgery market at nearly 22 million operations in 2013. The company is already deeply involved in this market and says it gets 60% of its vision care revenues from cataract-related sales.

Even so, this market is small relative to the rest of Abbott's business -- small enough that it groups cataract surgery with several other of its business lines under the category "other products " in its financial statements. Management says that the deal is not likely to affect 2013 earnings guidance at all, even if it closes, as expected, before the end of the year.


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