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WILSON GREATBATCH PROFIT TOPS ESTIMATES

Surging sales of its medical batteries and components, coupled with a pair of acquisitions, helped Wilson Greatbatch Technologies top analyst estimates by earning $3.3 million during the third quarter, the Clarence battery maker said Thursday.

Wilson Greatbatch's sales soared by 65 percent to $38.3 million as sales of the batteries that the company makes for pacemakers and implantable defibrillators rose sharply and capacitor sales more than doubled. The company's sales of batteries used by commercial firms, including the oil and gas industry, also shot up by 60 percent.

"Demand for our medical technology products continues to be vigorous," said Edward F. Voboril, Wilson Greatbatch's chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Wilson Greatbatch's profits, which equaled 16 cents per share, compared with a loss of $860,000, or 7 cents per share, a year ago. The earnings topped the 14 cents per share that analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Financial/First Call, and Voboril said the company is "very comfortable" with estimates that Wilson Greatbatch's earnings will reach 55 cents per share for the full year.

The company's medical battery sales rose by 28 percent to $12.1 million, fueled by a 20 percent gain in pacemaker battery revenues and a 49 percent jump in sales of implantable defibrillator batteries. Component sales almost doubled.

Most of the 60 percent increase in the company's commercial battery sales, which rose to $6.5 million, came from its acquisition of a small specialty battery manufacturer, Battery Engineering, from Hitachi-Maxell Ltd. in August 2000 for $5.8 million, and the rebound in the oil and natural gas exploration industry, which has since begun to slow.

Wilson Greatbatch also continued to benefit from the proceeds of its initial public offering in September 2000, which allowed the company to pay off more than $80 million in debt and reduce its interest expenses during the quarter by $2.7 million.

e-mail: drobinson@buffnews.com

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