Big Plans For Tiny Cameras

Laparoscopy, which enables surgeons to view the abdominal cavity and perform delicate work there through a tiny incision, has become a Wall Street buzzword for spectacular growth. So far, giants such as U. S. Surgical and Johnson & Johnson dominate the field.

But small companies are gaining entry. Medical Dynamics has attracted some big investors, which has boosted its stock from 2 in March to 7 recently. The company makes microinvasive and diagnostic camera systems that analysts say are well-suited to laparoscopic surgery.

One of Medical's products is the 5960 surgical camera, which costs about $14,000 and is used in a procedure that removes the gall bladder through a small incision in the navel. Bristol-Myers Squibb has purchased some $3.6 million worth of the cameras.

Another product is the 5990 optical catheter, which costs $20,000. It uses advanced flexible fiber optics that allow direct viewing of almost any part of the body. This camera, which is even smaller than the 5960, "can be inserted through a needle into incisions as small as a half-millimeter and steered into previously inaccessible areas," says President and CEO Van A. Horsley. Danek Group, a major maker of spinal-implant devices, has signed an exclusive pact for marketing rights to it.

Medical Dynamics "could generate sales of $20 million in 1993," says Sam Navarro of Needham & Co. He sees revenues of $7 million this year and $13 million in 1992, with estimated 1991 earnings of 7~ a share and 15~ in 1992. Navarro thinks the stock could double in 6 to 12 months.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.