Goldman Downgrades Baxter to 'Market Perform'

Analyst Lawrence Keusch says news that the company's dialysis equipment may be linked to five deaths could hurt Baxter's Renal business

Goldman Sachs downgraded Baxter International (BAX ) to market perform from market outperform.

The company says that Medisystems' blood tubing may be linked to dialysis patient deaths. Analyst Lawrence Keusch says although there's no direct link between Baxter's dialysis equipment and Medisystems' tubing products and the deaths have yet to be established, he believes the issue could prove to be a drag on Baxter's Renal business until the cause of deaths are discerned.

Although Keusch says he remains constructive on Baxter's long-term prospects, given the addition of another overhang for shares and the relative paucity of the expected news flow, he believes Baxter's stock is unlikely to outperform the market in the near term. He maintains his $2.00 2002 earnings per share estimate, and trimmed the $2.32 2002 estimate to $2.31 on reduced renal sales.

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