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Guidant Ups Outlook for 2004

The company's shares approach a two-year high.
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raised its forecast for 2004 profit well above analysts' expectations on Wednesday. It also affirmed guidance for the fourth quarter of this year.

For full-year 2004, the company forecast a profit of $746.16 million to $792.79 million, or $2.40 to $2.55 a share, on sales of $3.75 billion to $3.95 billion. Analysts' estimates call for $705.74 million, or $2.27 a share, in 2004. The company's guidance for 2003 is $2.36 a share to $2.41 a share.

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The heart-treatment company affirmed fourth-quarter profit of $171 million to $186.5 million, or 55 cents to 60 cents a share, on revenue of $920 million to $960 million. The Thomson First Call consensus is 57 cents a share.

Shares in the Indianapolis-based company were up 28 cents, or 0.5%, near a two-year high of $52.86 in premarket trading. They've almost doubled in the past 12 months.

The company will discuss its guidance at a meeting with analysts Wednesday.