St. Jude Medical’s Fourth-Quarter Profit Tops Estimates

St. Jude Medical Inc., a maker of heart rhythm devices, released preliminary fourth-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates on higher-than-anticipated revenue and greater cost savings.

Profit was 90 cents to 92 cents a share in the quarter ended Dec. 29, excluding 50 cents to 60 cents a share from one-time items such as restructuring costs and other charges, the St. Paul, Minnesota-based company said today in a statement before its presentation at the JPMorgan Chase & Co. health conference in San Francisco. Earnings topped the average of 87 cents from 25 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company said it expects to report $1.37 billion in sales for the quarter, a decrease of 1 percent from a year earlier after adjusting for the negative impact of foreign currency. St. Jude is scheduled on Jan. 23 to formally report earnings and provide a 2013 forecast.

“St. Jude Medical’s fourth-quarter revenue fell within or exceeded all of our previously announced guidance ranges,” Chief Executive Officer Dan Starks said in the statement. Starks also cited “implementation of significant cost savings initiatives in 2012” for higher-than-anticipated earnings.

Sales of products to treat atrial fibrillation were $239 million in the quarter, an increase of 10 percent from a year earlier, the company said. Sales of pacemakers and defibrillators, cardiovascular products and neuromodulation products declined.

St. Jude said Nov. 1 that it would fire 500 more people than first anticipated as it reorganizes its product divisions into two new operating units. The company also reduced its 2012 sales forecast in October for three of its units including cardiac rhythm management, its biggest.

The company’s shares gained less than 1 percent to $37.30 at the close in New York and have increased 4.5 percent in the past 12 months.

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