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Visx Says 1st-Quarter Earnings Beat Forecasts

Medical devices: The laser maker sees higher profit than expected on increased revenue from licensing fees.

April 05, 2001|From Bloomberg News

Visx Inc., the biggest maker of lasers used in vision-correction surgery, said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings were higher than analysts forecast because revenue from licensing fees increased.

Visx, based in Santa Clara, said it expects to report profit of 20 cents to 21 cents a share, higher than the 18-cent average estimate of analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial.

The company said the revenue it receives from doctors who use Visx lasers increased 23% from the fourth quarter. Visx charges doctors $100 each time they use a laser to correct vision. The number of surgeries rose more than analysts expected.

Visx had not predicted much growth in the number of surgeries for at least the first six months of this year because the economic slowdown was causing patients to balk at the price of the procedure, as much as $5,000.

The board of directors also approved a plan to buy back as many as 10 million common shares, or 17% of its stock. The company had 57.6 million shares outstanding as of March 19, according to a government filing.

Banc of America Securities analyst Ted Huber said in a research note that the number of surgeries increased 20% from the fourth quarter. He had expected a 10% increase. Earnings also got a boost because the company bought back more shares than expected in the quarter, Huber said.

Visx said it repurchased 4 million shares in the last three months.

Shares of Visx rose $1.17 to close at $17.10 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares have risen 62% this year.

The company wants to fend off a plan by financier Carl Icahn to take control of Visx's board. Icahn, who has a 9.9% company stake, intends to nominate directors next month at Visx's annual meeting. He has called for Visx to sell itself to a larger company and seeks a stock buyback plan.

Visx will report full financial results April 12.

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