Abbott Laboratories Inc
The profit topped Wall Street forecasts, and revenue was in line with targets, a relief for investors on the heels of a disappointing sales report from rival diversified healthcare company Johnson & Johnson
It was a very solid quarter, and the most important thing is that Humira relieved concerns among investors that it might stall, from its previous rapid growth, said Morningstar analyst Damien Conover.
Conover said Humira's continued growth probably gave Abbott confidence to raise its 2009 profit forecast and that other aspects of the earnings report were much as expected.
Abbott said it had earned $1.48 billion, or 95 cents per share, up from $1.09 billion, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier. The results included a gain of $287 million from a previously announced settlement with Medtronic over heart stent technology.
Excluding special items, the suburban Chicago company earned 92 cents per share. On that basis, analysts on average expected 90 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 3.5 percent to $7.76 billion, in line with Wall Street expectations. Revenue would have risen 8.4 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which lowers the value of overseas sales.
Global prescription drug sales fell 1.6 percent to $4.1 billion, hurt by new generic forms of Abbott's Depakote anti-seizure medicine. But that represents an improvement over the 4.3 percent decline seen in the second quarter.
Humira sales rose 24 percent to $1.49 billion, about $30 million ahead of Wall Street expectations, according to the average estimate of five analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Abbott's nutritionals business continued to show strength, with sales rising 9.8 percent to $1.39 billion despite the stronger dollar. The company, which is steadily expanding this segment, announced in July it would pay $130 million for the nutrition businesses of Wockhardt Ltd
The Wockhardt transaction is among five significant deals for Abbott this year, as the company aims to lessen its dependence on Humira for future earnings growth.
The nutritionals business continues to do very well, said Conover. He speculated that Abbott was trying to entrench those products in fast-growing emerging markets and would later move aggressively to introduce lucrative prescription drugs there.
Last month, Abbott said it planned to buy Solvay SA's
Analyst Tim Nelson of FAF Advisors in Minneapolis said Abbott's ability to meet sales targets and boost its earnings forecast would be a relief to investors.
Abbott shares, now trading at about 12 times expected 2010 per-share earnings, could rise later this year to a price-to-earnings ratio of 13 -- catching up with larger rival Johnson & Johnson, Nelson said.
J&J shares fell 2.4 percent on Tuesday after the company posted weaker-than-expected revenue, on disappointing sales of its prescription drugs and heart stents.
Citing strong results so far this year, Abbott nudged up its full-year profit forecast to between $3.70 and $3.72 per share. Its earlier view was $3.65 to $3.70.
Abbott shares were up 2.1 percent at $50.70 in trading before the market opened.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Lewis Krauskopf; editing by John Wallace and Lisa Von Ahn)