What's Making Shorts Go Long

Guilford Securities, an investment firm in Chicago, is known in the business as "a den of the shorts." Usually, "we take just one long buy position a year," says Mitch Kopin, a portfolio strategist at Guilford. So investors pay attention when the Guilford pros go bullish on a stock.

A "must-buy," says Kopin, is STAAR Surgical, which has "an almost exclusive right" to a $500 million market: the just-emerging "foldable" intraocular lens business. Here's why.

In September, the Food & Drug Administration granted a patent for STAAR's foldable lens, which analysts predict will be used in about 90% of all cataract surgeries. What's appealing about the lens? It requires only a tiny 3.5 millimeter incision for surgeons to insert it in the eye of cataract patients. The procedure using a hard lens requires an incision of 5mm to 11mm.

STAAR has licensed its big competitors--Cooper Cos., Allergan, and Chiron-- to distribute the foldable lens in return for a royalty fee of 6% of net revenues. But it is preparing to go into making the lens, which is the more lucrative side of the business. The market for the new lens is expected to grow by 15% to 20% a year. Kopin figures STAAR will be in the black in 1992, after an expected loss in 1991. And in 1993, he sees a net of $1 a share. He thinks the stock, now at 7, will double by early 1993.

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