Abbott Laboratories reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results on Wednesday, fueled by strong demand for its prescription medicines and improving demand for medical devices.

The suburban Chicago company said it earned $1.44 billion, or 92 cents per share, with results tempered by costs of recent acquisitions. That compared with $1.54 billion, or 98 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, earnings of $1.30 per share beat the analysts' average forecast of $1.29, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)