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Banc of America Cuts Kyphon to Sell

Banc of America downgraded Kyphon (KYPH)to sell from neutral.

Analyst Steven Lichtman says Medtronic got FDA approval for a product to treat vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) called Equestra on July 23. He thinks the approved product is for vertebroplasty procedures -- treating VCFs by injecting bone cement, but not raising fracture as done in Kyphon's kyphoplasty procedure.

He believes, however, this will be first of several products coming from Medtronic likely by the first-half of 2005 that will compete more directly with Kyphon's system. Lichtman cut the $273 million 2005 sales estimate to $257 million, cut the 62 cents earnings per share to 56 cents, and trimmed the 35% long-term earnings per share growth rate to 28%.

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