Guidant bid deadline approaches for J&J

Johnson & Johnson has until today to raise its offer for Guidant. Many analysts think its unlikely J&J will fork over more than the $24.2 billion it has already offered to beat a larger bid from Boston Scientific. But on the other hand, it is increasingly obvious how important Guidant's business could be to the company's future. J&J turned in final results for 2005 today, reporting so-so drug sales but great numbers from its medical device and diagnostic services units, with sales up 13.1 percent to $19.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Cypher stent sales were up about 10 percent. Sales of orthopedic products were equally impressive. What's a nice little medical products and services giant to do? Pay up, perhaps.

- see this article from the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

ALSO: To make the plot a little more interesting, Guidant announced that it is broadening its earlier recall of cardiac rhythm management devices. The company now says as many as several thousand of its pacemakers and defibrillators may need to be removed from patients. Units affected include the Pulsar Max, Pulsar, Discovery, Meridian, Pulsar Max II, Discovery II, Virtus Plus II, Intelis II and Contak TR. Article