3-D Imagery: A Vital Advantage

07/18/2003 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Gregory Spear

Editor and President, The Spear Report

"The burgeoning healthcare theme is creating many long-term investment opportunities," notes Gregory Spear, editor of The Spear Report "One favorable factor is the move of healthcare technology into the digital age and management of information in a digital mode. Our latest feature, Vital Images, is one important contributor to this new paradigm."

"Vital Images (VTAL NASDAQ) manufactures 3-D medical imaging software for disease screening, clinical diagnosis, and therapy planning. The company's software applies proprietary computer graphics and image processing technologies to a wide variety of data supplied by computed tomography (CT) scanners and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices. Vital's products allow clinicians to non-invasively navigate within these images to visualize internal structures and pathologies.

"Historically, 3-D medical imaging software was slow, difficult to use, and operated only on expensive workstations. Consequently, the software was appealing only for research. Vital Images brings high-speed visualization technology into the routine, day-to-day practice of medicine. For example, its software can non-invasively quantify calcium in the four major coronary arteries using CT image data. They have software that assists radiologists in analyzing the blood flow of stroke victims in real time and software also assists physicians in characterizing diseased blood vessels throughout the body, facilitating pre-surgical diagnosis. The company also offers non-invasive colonography software that generates 3-D images of the entire colon, increasing the speed and ease of locating and analyzing polyps.

"In the first quarter of 2003, Vital Images reported revenue of $6.8 million, a 53% increase from the first quarter of 2002. Net earnings for the 2003 quarter were 6 cents per diluted share, compared to a loss of 3 cents a year ago. The company reports Q2 earnings on July 22. If you want to see a beautiful uptrend in a small-cap stock during the big bad bear market, this is one of those rare birds. It is a buy and hold candidate."

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