Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) just has to be special. It doesn't follow the typical fiscal year, which ends Dec. 31. It doesn't even end its fiscal year in June (or March or October). No, its fiscal year ends in April, making comparisons to other medical-device companies a little tricky.

This quarter -- that would be its first quarter ended July 31 -- even comparisons with the company's historical quarters are difficult, because the quarter had 14 weeks instead of the typical 13. So rather than taking a typical look at the year-over-year sales comparisons, let's join Medtronic in being different and take a more generalized look at the company.

Medtronic hit a rough patch in 2007 after problems with the leads on its implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) resulted in a recall, but the company thinks it has finally stabilized its market share against Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ). Even if Medtronic can't regain its lost market share, it may be able to increase sales: There should be increased demand for heart rhythm devices after a study by Boston Scientific showed that more expensive ones that include a cardiac resynchronization therapy function (CRT-Ds) can help patients in earlier stages of heart failure.

Spinal and cardiovascular products, Medtronic's second- and third-largest segments, are both looking good. The acquisition of Kyphon is helping the spinal division, and the launch of Medtronic's drug-eluting stent, Endeavor, in Japan is helping the cardiovascular division.

Taking a page from Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) playbook of trying to grow earnings faster than revenue by cutting costs, Medtronic has slimmed down (it announced in May that it was cutting its workforce by 1,500 to 1,800 employees). A charge for letting employees go and a settlement of a patent dispute with Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) hurt earnings this quarter, but excluding those charges and convertible debt expenses, the company earned $0.79 per share. It's well on its way to making its full-year guidance of $3.10 to $3.20 in earnings, excluding items.

With a forward P/E of about 12 and a quarter into its fiscal year, Medtronic isn't insanely cheap, but it's not overly expensive, either. Investors in for the long haul could buy now, but if you'd like to be different, a put strategy might be a good alternative.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool owns shares of Medtronic and has a disclosure policy.