Medical device maker Boston Scientific posted net earnings of $334 million in the last quarter of 2005, up 12%. But the result, which equates to $0.40 a share, was flattered by extraordinary charges in the same period of 2004 relating to stock options and the repatriation of foreign profits.

Excluding charges the company would have seen earnings decline from $0.49 per share in fourth-quarter 2004 to $0.41.

Last month, Boston Scientific reported a 4% decline in revenues in the fourth quarter of 2005 to $1.54 billion, as sales of its drug-eluting stent Taxus (paclitaxel) slumped nearly 13% to $606 million.

Turnover of the product in the USA was particularly hard hit, falling more than 20% to $398 million on the back of strong competition from Johnson & Johnson’s rival drug-eluting stent Cypher (sirolimus), which depressed pricing.

J&J now claims a majority share of the market for this type of product, although Boston Scientific insists Taxus is still ahead in the USA, with 54% of the market. The company said there were signs of a recovery in Taxus sales in the fourth quarter.

Guidant deal to complete in March

In addition to reporting its fourth-quarter earnings, Boston Scientific also said that it is hopeful of completing its $27.2 billion acquisition of fellow device maker Guidant, won despite a bidding war with J&J, by the end of March. As a consequence of that deal Boston Scientific has agreed to sell its interventional cardiology business, including stents, to Abbott Laboratories.

Meanwhile, the firm said its discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over deficiencies in its quality and complaint reporting systems had gone well, and it would be working as hard as possible to resolve the problems. In the meantime, the FDA has a block on product approvals from the company.