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I recently called Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX ) a "show-me company," suggesting you wait for the turnaround to happen before investing rather than trying to hit the ever-elusive bottom. Beating analysts' expectations, raising earning guidance, and announcing plans to repurchase shares? That's certainly a step in the right direction.
The top-line wasn't pretty though. Revenue was up just 2% and that was entirely due to a weaker dollar. At constant currency, revenue dropped 2%. Heart devices are still a weak market as we saw with St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ ) last week.
Boston Scientific should benefit in the coming months from Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ ) announcement that it will exit the drug-eluting stent business, but it'll still have competition from Medtronic (NYSE: MDT ) and Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT ) .
With cost cutting measures in effect and more planned, the bottom line looks much better. Boston Scientific increased adjusted earnings guidance to $0.64 to $0.70 per share for 2011, up from earlier guidance of $0.58 to $0.68 per share.
The medical-device maker plans to repurchase $1 billion worth of its shares, which is 9% of the outstanding shares at the current market cap. The buyback should help create a floor in the share price, but more importantly, it gives investors confidence that management is comfortable with its cash flow and debt level. The company recently brought its long-term debt down to $4.2 billion after it ballooned up after the over-priced purchase of Guidant.
Boston Scientific is trading 44% higher than its 52-week low, but at $7.28, it's also a long way from its all-time high in 2004, when it peaked over $40 per share. The company has shown it can hit its mark for at least one quarter. If that has you convinced, go ahead and buy, but waiting to see if this comeback has legs continues to seem like a sensible option. In the meantime, add it to your watchlist to follow along.