Medtronic reported third-quarter sales of $3.9 billion that excluded revenue from the Physio-Control business, which it had sold to Bain Capital. That deal was announced in November but closed on Jan. 30, a couple of days after the quarter ended. That caused some confusion among analysts.

Greg Simpson of Wunderlich Securities used that bit of confusion as a prod that Medtronic should be making more divestitures. Simpson called Medtronic's revenues largely disappointing, with the ICD and spine businesses "prime culprits.''

"Those two businesses remain drags on the overall company," Simpson wrote. "We repeat our belief that the pieces of Medtronic are worth more than the whole, and believe further divestitures could be called for going forward." Simpson maintains his "buy" rating on the company.

MORE MONEY FOR USB SHAREHOLDERS?

Analyst Chris Gamaitoni at Compass Point Research and Trading upgraded his recommendation on U.S. Bancorp to a "buy" on Oct. 27. The upgrade came in time to catch a nice increase in the company's share price. But on Feb. 9 he moved his recommendation back to "neutral." Gamaitoni still likes USB and calls it a "premier operator in the large-cap banking space," but he anticipates the company will be returning more money to shareholders at the expense of share growth.

"We expect meaningful dividend increase in the second half of 2012 and would anticipate USB begin to strategically buy back stock in the next two years," Gamaitoni wrote. "While we view this as the correct strategy, these investments in a perpetually low interest rate environment limit share appreciation in the short-term in our opinion."

PATRICK KENNEDY