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St. Jude Medical reports healthy 2Q; also: pats on the back for U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and outlook for Regis Corp.

St. Jude Medical said today that second-quarter sales were up 20 percent from a year ago. The St. Paul-based medical device maker is selling more heart devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, and also selling them in places with favorable currency exchange rates. The Associated Press reports that profit was up 50 percent, but last year’s second-quarter profits were dampened by a patient lawsuit settlement. The company also said it now expects to finish the year ahead of Wall Street analysts’ predictions.

The Star Tribune’s Mike Meyers
points out how “[o]nly in this time of turmoil could a bank report an 18.5 percent decline in earnings per share and call it a proud moment.” But that’s exactly what happened Tuesday in the case of U.S. Bank. An RBC Capital analyst tells the newspaper that despite the lousy quarter, U.S. Bank is still at the top of the list for regional banks, and performing far better than its peers.

Meanwhile, another bank with major operations in Minnesota gets a pat on the back after reporting a 23 percent drop in income for the last quarter. Wells Fargo shares actually went up in value after it announced the better-than-expected 23 percent slide. William Frels, a St. Paul money manager, tells Bloomberg News that the company has “a nice balance of business.” Credit card fees helped offset some of its housing loan losses.

Zacks.com asks: “How attractive is Regis Corp.?” The Edina-based hair care company recently announced plans to close 160 underperforming salons. The website continues to rate the company’s stock as a “hold” for investors. It says that hair salons will remain the dominant moneymaker for Regis, but demographic trends suggest there might be growing demand for the company’s hair restoration services, too.

From the Business Agenda mailbag: Thanks to reader Matt in St. Paul, who pointed out that T.G.I. Friday’s new guest loyalty program actually comes after Chili’s introduced its “Eat and Enjoy Rewards” card. That program, which is closing down, was managed by a local agency called The Lacek Group.

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