Medtronic Strength Could Continue Through Earnings Next Week

Shares of Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) are expected to be strong today and through the company’s fiscal 1Q 2013 earnings report next week, with a big upgrade from Argus Research from Sell to Buy this morning. Argus raised its price target to $48, significantly above the Street average of $43, and others could follow suit as this beleaguered stock may be back on track to becoming a growth story again. Importantly, yesterday’s announcement that competitor St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) is getting further scrutiny from the FDA on its implantable defibrillator product line due to potential malfunctions, could be very good news for MDT. When the company announces earnings next week, a report of market share gains in its ICD (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) business could send the shares higher. Notably, MDT has easy comparisons in this segment given the company’s weak ICD performance last year. Dr. Robert Hauser of the Minneapolis Heart Institute has been a key watchdog for St. Jude’s ICD issues, and is expected to keep pressure on the FDA and St. Jude to correct the problems. In other words, the problem is likely to get worse for STJ, and could remain an important growth opportunity for MDT in the ICD market as doctors will increase their use of  products perceived to be safer. (more…)