Marcial: Vital Signs at St. Jude Medical

The maker of cardiac rhythm management products is anticipating rising demand overseas, and at home has a robust balance sheet and cash flow

For certain types of health care, spending isn't discretionary: When you are having, say, a heart problem, you don't postpone treatment or medical help. So you would think that makers of life-saving medical devices would be classic defensive (i.e., recession-resistant) plays. Yet the stock market has been, well, heartless, as health-care stocks have been battered with the rest of the market.

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