Varian's Calypso Gains Popularity - Analyst Blog

By Zacks | October 15, 2012 AAA

Oncology and X-Ray products company Varian Medical Systems (VAR) recently revealed that medical practitioners at London's Harley Street Clinic are utilizing its Calypso system to ensure timely monitoring of tumors during prostate cancer radiotherapy sessions. Calypso provides on-time data stream on the exact location of the prostate, which can be otherwise difficult to target as it is known to move by many millimeters during a therapy session.      

At Harley Street Clinic, doctors are utilizing the timely tracking ability of Calypso to cut down the quantum of healthy cells facing the beam. They place three Calypso transponders into the prostate, which provide a stream of data. The location of the transponders is monitored during treatment in order to regulate the focus of the beam.  

The Clinic reports that a growing number of patients are demanding use of Calypso transponders during therapy. It foresees that greater accuracy will cut radiation on healthy adjacent cells. This will allow doctors to administer greater doses with higher confidence.   

There are over 100 Calypso set ups worldwide and more than 15,000 patients have received therapy in conjunction with the system.

Varian is a leading manufacturer of integrated radiotherapy systems for cancer treatment and a premier supplier of X-ray tubes for diagnostic imaging applications. The company operates in a technology-driven environment where success depends on the use of new technology, product development and upgrades. In the radiation oncology market, Varian competes with Accuray (ARAY).

The company is poised to increase its market share in radiation oncology. It currently enjoys a healthy demand for its coveted TrueBeam technology, which has meaningfully contributed to its net order oncology growth. Varian's TrueBeam was designed to treat tumors with beams of high speed and precision. It incorporates several technological innovations such as patient positioning and managing his/her motion. TrueBeam can dispense dosage roughly four times faster than that possible with earlier equipment.

Moreover, Varian enjoys a strong balance sheet marked by low debt and moderate cash. The company from time to time uses a part of its healthy cash flow for share repurchases.

Varian competes with larger players in a technology-intensive industry. Further, uncertainties stemming from health care reform and a still weak hospital capital spending environment across many developed countries, especially in Europe, are significant challenges.

We are currently 'Neutral' on Varian. The stock retains a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

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