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Topic: Growth Stocks

C.R. Bard Inc. $74 – New York symbol BCR

C.R. BARD INC. $74 (New York symbol BCR; WSSF Rating: Average) makes medical equipment in four main fields: vascular products such as stents and catheters; urology products for incontinence and drainage; oncology products that detect and treat various types of cancer; and surgical tools. Each area supplies roughly a quarter of Bard’s total revenue.

This broad product line cuts Bard’s reliance on any one product. Most of Bard’s products are also single-use devices, which hospitals and other customers must constantly replace.

In the three months ended March 31, 2006, Bard’s earnings slipped to $81.1 million from $81.3 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings crept up to $0.76 from $0.75, because it had fewer shares outstanding.

If you disregard special charges, per-share profits grew 17.8%, to $0.86 from $0.73. Revenue grew 9.1%, to $467.5 million from $428.6 million. Foreign sales (which account for 30% of the total) would have grown 11% if not for the negative impact of the rising dollar in relation to some foreign currencies.

The company spent $38.6 million (8.3% of revenue) on research in the most recent quarter, up 41.9% from $27.2 million (6.3% of revenue) a year earlier. Thanks to this spending, Bard plans to launch two new hernia treatment products later this year. These new products should help Bard capture a bigger share of this $150-million-a-year market.

Bard’s recent restructuring has also freed up more cash for acquisitions. In 2005, it spent $79.1 million on acquisitions of businesses and technologies. In April 2006, it paid $166 million for Venetec International, Inc., which makes clamps that hold tubes and drug delivery equipment more securely in place than regular tapes and sutures. That cuts the risk of accidental removal and infection. Venetec’s products also give patients more freedom of movement. The purchase neatly complements Bard’s existing catheter business.

Bard trades at 22.0 times the $3.36 a share it should earn in 2006, and the $0.52 dividend yields 0.7%.

C.R. Bard is a buy.

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