In an encore to fourth-quarter results, medical-device firm Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) was able to leverage single-digit sales growth into double-digit earnings gains. Strong international trends again led the way, and a couple of events could keep Medtronic a compelling play in an appealing industry.

First-quarter sales grew 8% as overseas revenue improved an impressive 16%. International sales grew to 38% of overall quarterly sales, boosted by 16% growth in the flagship cardiac rhythm disease management (CRDM) segment, which sells implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) and other devices that help the heart beat properly. International ICD sales grew 25%.

In the results released Tuesday, Medtronic's other segments posted decent top-line growth as well: 12% for the spinal segment and 8% for cardiovascular. The cardiovascular unit is particularly interesting because it sells stents -- devices implanted in arteries to remove blockages and keep the blood flowing. Stents have been on trial lately, as health-care professionals increasingly question their effectiveness compared to drugs and other treatments. In addition, archrivals such as Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) recently introduced drug-eluting stents, further adding to the debate over what is best for patients.

Medtronic's stent sales held up well during the quarter, and the company is gearing up to release its own drug-eluting Endeavor stents, which, it said, the Food and Drug Administration will review in more detail in October. Endeavor stents are a primary reason why the company expects revenue to accelerate as fiscal 2008 progresses, implying that it expects approval some time this year. Overall, management is calling for top-line growth in the low double digits for the entire year.

Medtronic grew first-quarter earnings nearly 16%, and it expects to grow earnings faster than sales for the entire year. It also expects the reintroduction of its Physio-Control defibrillator to boost results toward the end of the year. Also, cash flow continued to recover as first-quarter free cash flow exceeded reported net income.                 

In July, Medtronic announced it was acquiring medical-device rival Kyphon (NASDAQ:KYPH) to boost its spinal business. The purchase price was high, but Kyphon has been growing more than 30% per year, and it could improve the company's growth prospects. Slowing growth has definitely weighed on investors' minds, and it's a key reason why Medtronic's stock price still lags its heights from 2000. 

However, the stock traded at a ridiculous 60 times earnings seven years ago, and it's posted steady, double-digit growth since then. The forward multiple is now less than 20, and given that its prospects still look bright, Medtronic is definitely worth a further look.

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Johnson & Johnson, but he has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. Microsoft is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.