Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW) makes heart valves and post-surgical cardiac monitoring systems used to treat and monitor patients with advanced cardiovascular disease. Unlike other medical device companies, Edwards only sells medical devices for treating heart disease. Most of the company's revenue comes from devices used to replace diseased or damaged heart valves. Most of the company's other products, such as surgical tools and monitoring systems, are all used during or after valve surgery. By investing in this area ahead of its competitors and concentrating its resources on a single therapeutic area, the company has remained the market leader in this area while it competes with larger, more diversified device companies such as Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ).
A significant portion of Edwards' heart valves require open heart surgery to install, an extensive procedure in which the heart is stopped and bypassed. There is growing demand in the medical community for a cheaper, less invasive technique for replacing defective heart valves. Several companies are already developing transcatheter valves, which can be inserted via a narrow catheter directly over the defective valve without stopping the heart. These valves require only a small incision instead of an elaborate open heart surgery, making the procedure practical even for high risk patients who could not survive surgery.(Read more at Wikinvest )