The beat goes on at Medtronic under CEO WILLIAM W. GEORGE. Since taking over in 1991 at the heart pacemaker company, George, 55, has pumped Medtronic into higher gear. The company has long been the world leader in pacemakers, but George won approval in '97 to apply its technology to diseases such as Parkinson's and incontinence. Thanks to new products--now accounting for 70% of sales--greater R&D spending, and George's tight financial discipline, shareholders have seen compound annual returns for each of the past five years of 33%; in '97 alone, Medtronic shares soared roughly 49%.

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