After posting better-than-expected earnings in every quarter of the fiscal year to date, medical equipment maker Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) aims to go four-for-four tomorrow. But will the Q4 numbers close out the year with a bang or a whimper?

After the news comes out, we'll have time aplenty to dissect it. But before we begin obsessing over Medtronic's short-term progress, let's review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 29,000 investors for their views on well over 4,000 companies, Medtronic among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 500 investors have submitted ratings on Medtronic. Their prognosis: This patient won't just live. It will thrive.           

Of those CAPS investors, 92% expect Medtronic to beat the market, and when you drill down to the opinions of our very best investors -- the CAPS All-Stars -- that sentiment swells to a healthy 95%. That's plenty to earn this firm four out of five possible CAPS stars.

Then again, in the medical sphere, optimism is far from rare:

Medical Appliances & Equipment Group

CAPS Rating

Zimmer (NYSE:ZMH)




Natus Medical (NASDAQ:BABY)




Hansen Medical (NASDAQ:HNSN)


Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)


Possis Medical (NASDAQ:POSS)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
As much as ordinary investors love Medtronic, the experts love it more. Every man jack (and woman jack) among the 15 Medtronic-tracking analysts that we track rates Medtronic a buy. Which is actually a bit strange, seeing as the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 by 16 percentage points over the last 52 weeks.

Bull pitch
CAPS players list a number of reasons for rating Medtronic an outperformer, with some calling it a "takeover target," others just "hopefully near a bottom." All-Stars in particular describe the firm as a "leader in its field," offering "the best, non-recalled pacemakers in the field (unlike Guidant/St. Jude)," and "leaders in coated stents, leaders in minimally invasive back surgery (reducing rehab time from 6 weeks to 6 days), and their neurological pipeline is extremely exciting."

Bear pitch
There's precious little bear-baiting going on over on the Medtronic board. In fact, just three players have posted pitches critical of the company, and only one of these is from an All-Star investor. The only two substantive comments given are that Medtronic "needs to expand product line" and that "pending lawsuits will keep MDT tame for a while."

Who said that?
To learn the identities of the wise Fools who penned these thoughts, and explore the plethora of additional financial data we've put together on the company, just click here.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 1,050 out of more than 29,000 raters. Intuitive Surgical is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.