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Varian Medical Systems: A Leading Oncology Device Manufacturer


Jun. 20 2016, Updated 10:37 a.m. ET

Company overview

Varian Medical Systems (VAR), headquartered in Palo Alto, California, is a leading radiation oncology treatment device and software manufacturer. It manufactures products in North America, Europe, and China and has approximately 70 sales and support offices worldwide as well as more than 6,350 associates. The company is focused on cancer treatments and the application of X-ray technology. The company is part of the S&P 500 and reported revenues of approximately $3.1 billion in 2015.


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A brief history of Varian Medical Systems

Varian Medical Systems was founded in 1948 as Varian Associates by Russell H. Varian, Sigurd F. Varian, William Webster Hansen, and Edward Ginzton. The company sold the Klystron tube, an amplifier that generated high-frequency microwaves. Below are some highlights in the company’s development over the years:

  • In 1959, Varian Associates was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • In 1968, the company introduced Clinac 4, the first linear accelerator with cobalt irradiators used for the treatment of cancer.
  • In 1970, Varian began manufacturing X-ray tubes.
  • In 1999, Varian Associates split its semiconductor, vacuum tubes, and medical devices business into Varian Semiconductor, Varian, Inc., and Varian Medical Systems, respectively.
  • In 2010, the company introduced the TrueBeam system for radiosurgery and radiotherapy.
  • In 2012, Varian Medical Systems acquired InfiMed, which enabled the company to provide a comprehensive X-ray diagnostic suite of products.
  • In 2014, the company launched complete ProBeam system for proton therapy.

Varian Medical System is a dominant player in the radiation oncology market and primarily competes with big medical device players such as C R Bard (BCR), Boston Scientific (BSX), and Accuray (ARAY). You might consider investing in the PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility Portfolio (SPLV) to gain exposure to Varian Medical Systems. SPLV has ~0.89% of its total holdings in VAR.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at the various business segments of Varian Medical Systems.


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