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A pair of brokerages issued buy ratings on the company Friday morning, with First Albany upgrading shares to strong buy from neutral and Stanford Group initiating coverage with a buy. The moves bring the total number of analysts with a buy rating on Medtronic to 25, with only two rating it at hold and two at sell. (Both brokerages perform and seek to perform business with the companies covered in research reports.)

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In the eyes of both brokerages, Medtronic's efforts to break into the increasingly crowded stent market will prove extremely lucrative. And given the company's long track record of innovating -- Medtronic was one of the originators of the implantable cardiac pacemakers -- First Albany analyst Jason Mills said the future looks promising.

"Multiple new product cycles are teed up and ready to drive growth and momentum over the next five years," said Mills, in his upgrade. "In other words, we suggest the catalysts are aligned, and the diversity of Medtronic's business represents the key to expected momentum."

Through fiscal 2009, Mills said a plethora of Medtronic products could be on the market, starting with a pick-up in sales related to CareLink, a program that allows doctors to use the Internet to remotely check up on patients with Medtronic devices. By fiscal 2006, the company's Endeavor stent should be on the market, with Mills saying worldwide sales will be at least $600 million.

Ultimately, with so many products and so much potential, Mills thinks the company will be able to grow much faster than its stated goal of 15% annual growth, calling the company's stock "a significant buying opportunity for investors."

In reaction, shares of Medtronic rose 55 cents, or 1.1%, to $49.22.