The Prognosis Is Good For Medex

In these times of slumping profits, investors are eagerly bagging shares of companies that are bucking the tide. That's the big reason why Medex, a maker of a broad range of disposable medical products, including intravenous infusion equipment and specialized valves for dispensing blood and fluids for life-support systems, has been on the fast track.

Its sales and earnings have been shooting up each year for more than a decade. Since 1987, sales have risen at a compounded annual rate of 29%, to $65 million this year, and earnings in the same period have gone up at a 21% yearly rate, to $4.9 million, or 97~ a share. So Medex shares have been on the go, from 22 in July to 32 currently -- despite the market's recent decline.

With the stock now trading at a price-earnings ratio of 21, has Medex hit its peak? Money manager Chuck Allmon, who is a big Medex bull, says that although the hefty p-e "allows no room for error," the company's "long-term growth record is excellent." Analyst Elliott Schlang of Kemper Securities Group is even more bullish: Medex' current p-e is about equal to the company's projected growth rate -- "well in line with our strategy of buying fundamentally solid growth companies."

With the continued growth of its core business, Medex earnings should jump next year to about $1.50 a share on revenues of $110 million, says Schlang. He thinks the stock will rise to at least 42 over the next six months.

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