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Imaging stocks post modest gains in 1999

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A fourth-quarter rebound helped push imaging devices stocks into the black for 1999, according to a survey by HealthCare Markets Group, a Hilton Head, SC-based healthcare advisory and investment banking firm. For the year, imaging devices stocks returned

A fourth-quarter rebound helped push imaging devices stocks into the black for 1999, according to a survey by HealthCare Markets Group, a Hilton Head, SC-based healthcare advisory and investment banking firm. For the year, imaging devices stocks returned an average increase of 3.8%, compared with a 22.9% decrease in 1998, a 9.3% dip in 1997, and a 4.3% increase in 1996. Still, the 1999 performance lagged well behind the 18.7% gain for healthcare industry shares as a whole.

Driving growth in the imaging devices sector was hand-held ultrasound firm SonoSite, which surged 205% during the year, and 3-D software developer Vital Images, which climbed 152%. Digital x-ray developer Swissray rebounded to gain more than 600%, while bone densitometry firm Norland posted a 175% improvement.

Firms experiencing losses for the year included Trex Medical, which dropped 67%, and EndoSonics, which slipped 55%. Hologic also declined 52% in 1999.

In other industry news, imaging services firms found themselves again in the red this year, shedding an average of 10.9% in 1999, compared with a loss of 32.1% in 1998 and a gain of 3.7% in 1997.

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