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Boston Scientific falls after 4Q profit plunges 55 percent

Boston Scientific Corp., the second-biggest cardiac-device maker, fell in early trading after fourth-quarter earnings plummeted 55 percent.

Boston Scientific declined 3.6 percent to $5.87 at 8:30 a.m. Net income dropped to $107 million, or 7 cents a share, from $236 million, or 15 cents a share, a year earlier, the Natick-based company said today in a statement.

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Demand for defibrillators to restart a stopped heart and pacemakers to ensure a steady rhythm, two of Boston Scientific’s biggest products, continued to fall in the fourth quarter after peaking in 2009. The company won US approval in November for the Promus Element heart stent, its own higher-profit version of a device it previously licensed from Abbott Laboratories.

“Boston’s implantable cardioverter defibrillator franchise continues to underperform in a struggling market,” said Michael Weinstein, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst in New York, in a note to clients today. “Stents also struggled in the fourth quarter, with Boston’s non-drug-eluting stent and cardiac rhythm management businesses unable to offset the shortfall.”

The company forecast earnings excluding one-time items of 60 to 70 cents a share for 2012, and said the year’s sales will range from $7.3 billion to $7.7 billion.

Boston Scientific reported fourth-quarter revenue fell to $1.85 billion from $2 billion a year earlier. Worldwide sales of defibrillators used to shock a stopped heart back into a normal rhythm and pacemakers decreased 15 percent to $482 million. Sales of the company’s stents and related products declined 8 percent to $594 million.

The device maker’s shares had fallen 11 percent in the past 12 months before today.

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