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St. Jude Medical Gets Too Much Praise

Stocks in this article: STJ

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Every once in a while I am amazed at how some companies apparently can do no wrong, despite a constant stream of negative news. St. Jude Medical (STJ) certainly fits this criteria.

Although this company has showed extraordinary potential, over the past several months there have been concerns ranging from the company's product pipeline to its competitive positioning.

Issues related to the company's leads have brought about increased scrutiny from the FDA. St. Jude is also coming off two disappointing quarters in a row, during which revenue declined more than 2% in the fourth quarter and 3% in the first quarter.

Despite all of this, the stock is up almost 40% the past five months. This is not St. Jude's fault, however. There's not much a company can do when its stock has become a Street favorite. I do worry, however, that investors are willfully ignoring what's becoming a negative trend in favor of the company's potential. I won't dispute that the upside prospects are there. But at some point, though, it has to manifest itself into better execution. The question is when?

Given the soft growth that St. Jude has posted over the past couple of quarters, not much was expected in this report. In that regard, there weren't any surprises, either. Though the company missed on both top and bottom lines, when taking into account other reports from within the sector, St. Jude didn't perform that poorly, even with the 3% revenue decline.

As is often the case in this sector, there's plenty to sort through. Unfortunately for St. Jude, most of it was underwhelming -- led by the company's cardiac rhythm management (CRM) business, when shed 7% year over year. This was especially disappointing because aside from being one of St. Jude's largest businesses, CRM also shed 5% in the fourth quarter.

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