SAN FRANCISCO – Many medical device companies capture public and investor attention by focusing their development efforts on new whiz-bang technologies that sometimes turn out to be the biomedical equivalent to “new cuisine,” where presentation seems to mean far more than taste.

C.R. Bard (Murray Hill, New Jersey) isn’t one of those companies.

As Chairman and CEO Timothy Ring showed during his presentation at the 24th annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in January, Bard is much more a meat-and-potatoes kind of company, offering a broad range of primarily utilitarian products in what many might consider unhip market segments.

The company, which will mark its 100th anniversary in 2007, has some 8,600 employees and is very much a global presence, with operations in 23 countries.

Its broad array of offerings comprises more than 100 major product lines across four business sectors – vascular, urology, oncology and surgical specialty - and produces what Ring characterized as “consistent double-digit revenue growth.”

He noted that Bard is focusing on acquisition of new technologies, with a preference of acquiring technologies at an early stage “and developing it ourselves.” Ring said the company is well positioned for such acquisitions, generating about $300 million in free cash annually. “We want to close more deals” in 2006, he said, adding: “We have the financial flexibility to pursue development projects.”

During his presentation, Ring touched on Bard’s efforts in the atrial fibrillation (AF) space, noting that the company kept that program when it sold off the rest of its interventional cardiology business in 1998. “Some 2.2 million Americans are afflicted with AF today,” Ring said. “We think as many as half of them can be treated by our catheter.” He said European approval of the device is anticipated in the second half of this year, with U.S. clearance coming in 2007.

— Jim Stommen, Executive Editor