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Safer Surgery With Stereotaxis


As the Dow Jones industrial average hit new highs on Oct. 1, some investors were putting money in another bull market: fine art. And Sotheby's (BID), one of the largest global auctioneers of fine art, antiques, and collectibles, stands to profit. Sotheby's "is a way to participate in the trend of rising wealth around the world," says Rommel Dionisio of Wedbush Morgan Securities, who rates the stock, now at 53.12, a buy. He expects the stock to climb to 60 in a year. The continued upward momentum in the art market and rapid wealth creation bode well for Sotheby's, which caters to the super-rich, says Dionisio. Sales have been robust, he notes. On Sept. 1 the auction house raised the commission it charges buyers from 20% to 25% on the first $20,000 of each lot. On Oct. 2, Dionisio raised his 2007 earnings forecast from $2.87 to $2.89 a share, and sales from $831 million to $850 million. He sticks with his 2008 profit estimate of $3.12 a share but raised his sales estimate from $853 million to $874.3 million. In 2006, Sotheby's earned $1.75 on sales of $664 million. The new charges should boost earnings by as much as 30 cents a share annually, figures George Sutton of Craig-Hallum Capital Group, who rates Sotheby's a buy.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

POLYCOM (PLCM), the leading maker of videoconferencing systems, dropped some 20% in September, to 25, amid worries that it might miss the Street's third-quarter earnings forecasts. But some pros described the selling as an overreaction: "It's a classic cleanout, and the stock is now oversold," says Greg MacArthur, president of investment outfit Viewpoint2000. The fundamentals remain solid, he says, and the stock should be worth 40 in six months or a year. Scott Sutherland of Wedbush Morgan Securities upgraded the stock from a hold to a buy. "Our checks with key resellers indicate third-quarter [results] will be in line with our and management's guidance," he says. Its current valuation is attractive, he adds, given Polycom's growth opportunities. With the stock, which has since inched up to 27.18, trading at 16 times estimated 2008 earnings of $1.61, it is selling at a big discount to Polycom's estimated yearly growth of 20%, says Sutherland. For 2007, he sees earnings of $1.31 a share on sales of $929 million, up from 2006's $1.08 on $682 million. He notes that Polycom, with cash on hand worth $4 a share, is No. 1 in an industry "experiencing accelerated growth."

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

Stereotaxis (STXS) is in neither stereos nor taxicabs. It makes a computerized magnetically controlled navigation system that guides devices used in minimally invasive cardiac arrhythmia surgery. It has partnered with Siemens (SI), Philips (PHG), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to provide the components used with the Stereotaxis system. The system permits more complex procedures, using images to steer catheters and guidewires through the blood vessels and heart chambers. This is achieved by means of computer-controlled magnetic fields. The procedure takes less time and reduces a patient's exposure to X-rays. Stereotaxis wants to make its system standard in treatment of coronary diseases and irregular heartbeat, says Herman Saftlas of Standard & Poor's (MHP), who rates the stock a buy, in part because of its order backlog of $55 million as of June 30. The stock has leaped from 10 in January to 14.70. Mimi Pham of HSBC Securities (HBC), who rates the stock overweight, has a 12-month target of 18. She says Stereotaxis benefits from the growth of new procedures for atrial fibrillation. More than 10,000 procedures have been performed using Stereotaxis, says CEO Bevil Hogg.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.


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