With professional athletes telling us how to improve our quality of life with such products as GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE:GSK) Levitra, and Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) Viagra, not enough attention may be given to golf legend, Jack Nicklaus, who tells how to stay on the course with the hip of his choice made by Stryker (NYSE:SYK).

Just like 78 million other Americans, I belong to the baby boomer generation, and consider myself a weekend warrior. More than any other generation, baby boomers are obsessed with not wanting to allow the affects of aging compromise their quality of life. So far, none of my body parts have worn out, but if one did, I would begin researching how to replace the broken part immediately.

For many, however, replacing knees, hips, elbows, and shoulders is not an option. What is an option is the choice of products and medical techniques available. Stryker Corporation makes both the parts and the tools for installation. For a doctor or medical facility, this would be like one-stop shopping for all their needs.

The government realizes that a healthy and active population is good for the economy. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration treats new medical products, surgical techniques, and their research favorably. This regulatory climate encourages venture capital and Wall Street to invest money and promote companies with cutting edge medical technology. It also promotes an environment for mergers and joint ventures. (More on that a little later.)

Stryker distinguishes itself relative to both its peers and all publicly traded companies. Its earnings rank, according to Investor's Business Daily, is 96 (out of 100). This means that Stryker's three-year earnings growth rate of 26% is better than 96% of the IBD 6000 (an index of 6,000 publicly traded companies). The company is anticipated to grow earnings by 21% in 2004 and 20% in 2005. Its revenue growth, gross margins, and operating margins all exceed industry averages. Stryker also has cash equal to three times its debt.

All of this translates into superior returns for shareholders. Over the past year, shares have climbed from a low of $62.95 to recent near-$90 levels.

So much attention has been given to the new coated stents and the battle for market share between Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Guidant (NYSE:GDT), Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), that a "nuts and bolts" company like Stryker is often overlooked. This could be a mistake.

Finally, there's the possibility that Stryker could become an acquisition target. Many companies in the medical industry are struggling, with some of the most recognizable names in health care putting up growth rates in the single digits. I am not saying that Stryker is for sale or that a potential merger is a reason for giving this company consideration. However, what would a company with a market cap of about $18 billion, little debt, and a projected earnings growth rate of 20% be worth to a larger company struggling to grow? Just thinking about it might make joint replacement a little sexier.

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Fool contributor Glen Trematore can be found training for endurance events in the parks of Virginia Beach. He has no stake in any of the companies mentioned here.