) to neutral from buy.
Analyst Dave Lothson says the stock has appreciated 170% since the start of 2002, when the TAXUS drug-eluting coronary stent system first became a factor in the company's stock performance. He notes the key drivers of the shares have been the attainment of key legal, clinical, regulatory, and foreign market milestones.
With the U.S. launch of TAXUS about to arrive, he thinks the TAXUS phase of the company's share performance is coming to an end. He expects TAXUS to be hugely successful, driving earnings per share to over $3.00 in 2004. However, beyond that, he says visibility for earnings growth becomes murky.