After cost-cutting, St. Jude beats estimates in Q4

It's been a cold winter for St. Jude Medical ($STJ) between regulatory chidings and analyst gloom, but the devicemaker is posting a better-than-expected fourth quarter, beating internal projections and Wall Street estimates.

In preliminary results, St. Jude is expecting fourth-quarter sales of about $1.4 billion, a 1% drop from the same period last year but, coupled with the company's broad cost-cutting, that revenue brought in a profit of 90 cents per share. That puts St. Jude about 4 cents above its expectations, the company said, and it outstrips analyst estimates by an average of 3 cents, according to Bloomberg.

While that's all good news for the lately troubled device giant, taking away the ongoing layoffs and restructuring, St. Jude's business units are largely still struggling. Cardiac rhythm management dropped 6% to $682 million, with pacemakers plummeting 11% from the same period in 2011. Neuromodulation declined 7% and cardiovascular sales dropped 1%, but atrial fibrillation jumped 10% to $239 million on the quarter.

Back in October, St. Jude slashed its sales projections for 2012, and the company announced another round of 500 layoffs, having cut 300 jobs in August.

In the meantime, St. Jude still has to crawl out of the bad PR hole brought on by concerns over the safety of Durata leads. The company maintains its products are effective and free of the erosion concerns that got Riata pulled off the market, but it still needs to address FDA concerns over the devices' manufacturing and rising whispers that Durata might not have the lifespan it promises.

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