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HeartWare loss smaller than expected; shares rise

By Pallavi Ail

(Reuters) - Medical device maker HeartWare International Inc reported a smaller-than-expected first-quarter loss after sales of its heart pump soared 62 percent, sending its shares up 8 percent in after-market trading.

During the quarter, the company sold 482 of its flagship HVAD pumps, which won approval from U.S. health regulators in November.

HeartWare shares dipped during the company's post-earnings call with analysts after it said an investigation into a patient's death, which was reported by U.S. health regulators in late-March, showed that there may have been one more such incident related to the HVAD device. (http://r.reuters.com/jef77t)

"We suspect that most likely cause of the event is an electrostatic discharge during battery replacement (which) could have caused the software to function improperly," Chief Executive Doug Godshall said.

Godshall said the second incident may have happened previously although it would be difficult to prove "definitively".

"We note that both patients had uncommon underlying medical conditions that greatly increased the risk of mortality in event of any disruption in pump performance."

Godshall said the company plans to update the instructions in the patient manual so as to specifically warn about the electrostatic issue.

The company's net loss narrowed to $12.9 million, or 87 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $18.8 million, or $1.33 per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue jumped 87 percent to $49.2 million.

Analysts had expected a loss of $1.20 per share on revenue of $39.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

HeartWare shares were up at $91.60 in extended trading after closing at $85.42 on the Nasdaq on Monday.

(Editing by Maju Samuel)

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