M&A status: Definitely in the mix. Edwards ($EW) remains an acquisition target, a year after speculation began in earnest. The company has faced a year of advances and setbacks, and a number of larger medical device companies likely covet Edwards' technology, including its Sapien transcatheter aortic heart valve. Sapien won a long-awaited FDA approval in October to treat a larger class of patients. The technology is inventive, and surgeons can deliver it to the location of the diseased valve by crimping it into a catheter-based delivery system. They can go in either through the leg or ribs. But transcatheter heart valves failed to meet expectations in the 2012 third quarter, thanks to European austerity measures and U.S. reimbursement issues. As a JPMorgan Chase analyst told Bloomberg in October, Sapien will soon face competition from both Boston Scientific ($BSX) and St. Jude Medical ($STJ), and Medtronic ($MDT) is in an active U.S. clinical trial with its CoreValve system. But the company doesn't have major rivals yet and continues to focus aggressively on expanding Sapien's market.
Likely acquirer: A cardiac company trying to get a leg up in the market. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) might step in. Reuters reported in late 2011 that the company was interested in adding heart valves and heart pumps to its product roster.
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