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Medtronic Can Almost See Forever

The company raises its earnings forecast through fiscal 2008.
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isn't in any danger of being criticized for lacking visibility.

The Minneapolis-based medical-device maker can in fact see quite well -- so well that it raised its earnings guidance all the way through fiscal 2008.

For fiscal 2006, the company is projecting a profit of $2.18 to $2.23 a share, up from its previous estimate of $2.10 to $2.15.

Meanwhile, the fiscal 2007 forecast was lifted to $2.45 to $2.55 and fiscal 2008 guidance was boosted to $2.78 to $2.98, both 8 cents above the old ranges.

Medtronic reaffirmed its previous revenue outlook of $11.1 billion to $11.6 billion for fiscal 2006, $12.2 billion to $13.3 billion for 2007 and $14 billion to $16 billion for 2008.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call are anticipating a profit of $2.16 in fiscal 2006, $2.46 in 2007 and $2.88 in 2008. Wall Street's fiscal 2006 sales estimate is $11.5 billion, while its target the next year is nearly $13 billion. For fiscal 2008, analysts expect a top line of $14.9 billion.

The company also still expects revenue growth of 14% to 16% for the fiscal second quarter and reiterated its other targets, including achieving 15% revenue and earnings growth over any five-year period.

The earnings per share ranges for fiscal 2006 through 2008 exclude any possible charges and the effect of mandatory stock option expensing that's required under new accounting rules.

Shares of Medtronic were adding 68 cents, or 1.3%, to $53.55 in after-hours trading Tuesday.