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The stock value of Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE:EW), the maker of artificial heart valves and hemodynamic monitoring, declined by more than 18 percent to $87.95 per share during the morning trading at the New York Stock Exchange, following the release of its preliminary sales report for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, of $448 million. The company’s third quarter sales are lower than the $465 million to $485 million projected sales in July.

According to Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW), its sales performance was affected by weak global sales of transcatheter heart valves, of approximately $124 million, including the $55 million in sales in the United States. Surgeons use the transcatheter heart valve to replace a patient’s defective aortic valve, by implanting it through a small incision to prevent an open-heart surgery.

The California-based artificial heart valve maker said the company’s growth rate was approximately 9 percent, although its sales fell short of its expectation. The company expects better sales performance during the fourth quarter.

Michael A. Mussallem, chairman and chief executive officer of Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW) said, “Despite the third-quarter sales shortfall, we anticipate a strong rebound in the fourth quarter. The pending FDA approval to expand the indication to treat U.S. high-risk patients with SAPIEN, as well as the recent addition of our larger 29mm valve and a third delivery approach to our clinical trial, will make this therapy available to a considerably broader group of patients. Assuming this FDA approval happens early this quarter, for full-year 2012, we expect to achieve the low end of both our current global THV sales guidance of $550 million to $600 million, and our U.S. THV sales guidance of $240 million to $260 million. We remain enthusiastic about the potential of this transformative technology to improve the lives of many of the patients who suffer from severe aortic stenosis,”

He also explained that ongoing austerity measures by governments in Europe and the limited insurance reimbursements in the United States affected demands for the company’s products.

A report from Bloomberg cited a comment from Michael Weinstein, analyst from JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), regarding the sales performance of Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW) this quarter. Weinstein said the result was disappointing, despite the 9 percent sales growth, compared with the company’s sales performance during the same period last year. He said, “At this point, it’s hard to see what turns this trend around. The competitive landscape will only get tougher over the next six to 12 months.”

St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) and Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) expected to introduce their own minimally invasive valves. Edwards Lifesciences Corp (NYSE:EW) is scheduled to release its full earnings report on October 19.