Despite its presence in the intriguing, cutting-edge market for implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) market, St. Jude Medical's (NYSE:STJ) shareholders found 2006 a year they'd rather soon forget. But the medical device maker's preliminary fourth-quarter results could revive its stock price, which plunged nearly 27% during the past year.

On Jan. 8, the company announced that its 2006 Q4 net sales will top its 2005 Q4 numbers by approximately 9%, coming in at around $864 million. This amount exceeds the Thomson Financial consensus revenue estimate by $21 million. The news was well-received by the market; the company's common stock experienced nearly double its average trading volume yesterday, and shares are presently trading 11% higher than Friday's close.

St. Jude's Q4 ICD sales came in at $289 million, near the upper end of management's previously issued range of guidance, and a 3% increase year over year. Pacemaker sales remained strong at $246 million, up 6% from Q4 2005. Aside from these two key revenue sources, the company's promising results were supplemented by the growth of its atrial fibrillation (AF) and neuromodulation product lines. AF product sales grew by 26% to $91 million, and neuromodulation product sales rose 16% to $50 million.

The company's promising quarterly results come at a crucial time for St. Jude. The company's ICD sales for much of 2006 were tempered by highly publicized concerns surrounding ICDs' safety, which hampered the industry as a whole. Shares of rival companies such as Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) also suffered for much of 2006. While the ICD industry may not be out of the woods yet, St. Jude's results do indicate a strong underlying demand for ICDs, and the market appears to have more realistic expectations for the industry than it did 12 months ago.

The head of St. Jude appears fairly optimistic that fortunes can be reversed for shareholders in the upcoming year. President and CEO Daniel Starks noted, "We have a strong team and state-of-the-art products in place, which we believe position us for an exciting 2007."

So what do Fools think? The Motley Fool CAPS community is bullish on St. Jude; the stock maintains a four-star rating and a bulls-to-bears ratio of 104 to eight. CAPS player Phoebe1225 holds a particularly strong conviction on this pick, writing, "The stock is the premier leader in the sector, hands down."

See which health-care stocks Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner have chosen for their market-beating Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter. You can try it free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Billy Fisher does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.