Shares of

St. Jude Medical

(STJ)

slipped Wednesday even though the medical-device maker posted third-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' predictions.

The company also offered fourth-quarter financial guidance that tops Wall Street expectations and full-year guidance that exceeds the average analyst estimates.

Nevertheless. the stock lost $1.10, or 1.5%, to $73.78, after having declined as low as $71.30.

The St. Paul, Minn.-based company earned $113 million, or 61 cents a share on revenue of $578 million for the three months ended Sept. 30. The results exclude one-time charges, such as the $35 million pre-tax charge for discontinuing a product line.

The consensus analyst prediction was a profit of $105 million, or 56 cents a share, on revenue of $578 million, according to Thomson First Call.

On a reported basis, St. Jude Medical earned $91.2 million, or 49 cents, on revenue of $578 million for the third quarter. That compares to a profit of $84.1 million, or 46 cents a share, on revenue of $477.5 million for the same period last year.

St. Jude Medical, which recently announced a 2-for-1 stock split, said its split-adjusted fourth-quarter EPS prediction would be in the range of 31 cents to 33 cents. The Thomson First Call split-adjusted consensus prediction was 30.5 cents a share.

For the full year, St. Jude said it forecast a split-adjusted EPS of $1.14 to $1.16. The Thomson First Call consensus was $1.12 a share. The stock split, announced Oct. 11, is payable Nov. 22 in the form of a 100% stock dividend for shareholders of record on Nov. 1.

Daniel J. Starks, the chairman and chief executive, said the company looks forward to expanding sales in its implantable cardioverter defibrillator business. ICD sales for the third quarter reached $157 million, up 57% from the same period last year. He forecast full-year sales of $570 million to $580 million for the surgically implanted devices that deliver electrical shocks to slow down dangerously rapid heartbeats.

Starks added that the company expects to complete by year-end or in the first quarter of 2005 its previously announced acquisition of

Endocardial Solutions

(ECSI)

, a heart-care device company. The acquisition of another cardiac-device company, Irvine Biomedical, was completed Oct. 7.