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Analyst upgrades St. Jude as safety concerns fade

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Cowen & Co. analyst upgraded St. Jude Medical shares on Monday, saying he is taking a more positive view of some of the company's implantable heart devices and its Durata wires.

THE OPINION: Analyst Joshua Jennings raised his rating to "Market Perform" from "Underperform" and increased his price target to $53 per share from $38. Jennings said he no longer expects a recall of the company's Durata heart device wires, and while he once thought St. Jude would lose market share in implantable defibrillators, that hasn't happened. He said the company lost a small amount of market share in the first quarter and recovered in the second quarter.

The St. Paul, Minn., company makes a variety of medical devices, including pacemakers and implantable defibrillators, which correct dangerous irregular heartbeats. The company has struggled in recent years to address quality issues with wires that are used to attach its defibrillators to the heart.

In 2010, St. Jude stopped selling its Riata leads because of evidence that the silicone coating on the wires could wear and break down over time, increasing the chance a defibrillator could malfunction and either deliver a shock when none is needed, or fail to shock the patient's heart when it is not beating properly. It recalled the wires in late 2011. Since then investors and analysts have looked for signs of similar trouble for its newer Durata wires, which are coated with a different material.

Also on Monday, St. Judge announced it has received European approval to market the first pacemaker that does not require the implanted wires to attach to the heart.

THE STOCK: Shares of St. Jude Medical Inc. gained 66 cents to $55.82 in afternoon trading. The stock reached an all-time high of $57.17 on Oct. 4.