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Giant Strides At Symmetry

Symmetry Medical () (SMA) is sitting pretty in the fast-growing orthopedics market: It designs and makes implants used in joint replacements -- mainly hips and knees -- including the instruments to put them in place. Big manufacturers such as Zimmer () and Stryker () are outsourcing more and more of what they need, says Craig Leighton of investment firm Lord Abbett, which owns shares. Symmetry is the largest supplier to those big makers. Its operating margin of some 20%, says Leighton, is aided by its low-cost operations. And the steady rise in orders fueled by an aging population has delivered solid earnings, he adds. Theodore Huber of Wachovia Securities () expects Symmetry will earn 96 cents a share in 2005, $1.20 in 2006, and $1.41 in 2007, up from 2004's 44 cents. Now at 23 a share, the stock should hit 31 in 6 to 12 months, figures Huber, who rates it "outperform."

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.

By Gene G. Marcial

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