St. Jude Medical

(STJ)

reported solidly higher first-quarter earnings that beat estimates, pushing its stock up sharply Wednesday morning.

The device company earned $119 million, or 32 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $95 million, or 26 cents a share, last year. Excluding a charge in the most recent quarter, earnings were $132 million, or 35 cents a share. Revenue was $663.9 million in the 2005 quarter.

Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 33 cents a share on revenue of $646 million. The company also raised earnings guidance for the current quarter, predicting earnings of 35 cents to 37 cents a share. Analysts were forecasting 34 cents a share.

For the year, the company sees earnings of $1.39 to $1.43 a share, compared with the consensus Thomson First Call estimate of $1.40 a share.

By segment, sales of the company's implantable cardioverter defibrillator products rose 72% from a year ago to $206 million, while sales of atrial fibrillation products rose 55% from a year ago to $59 million.

The stock was recently up $3.14, or 8.7%, to $39.40.