CHICAGO - Medical products maker Baxter International Inc said on Wednesday it expects to increase annual profits 11 percent to 13 percent on average over the next five years, even as it boosts investment into research.

The maker of blood therapy, kidney dialysis products and vaccines said it expects to increase sales about 7 percent to 8 percent annually over five years, excluding foreign currency effects, while increasing investment in research and development at an average annual rate of at least 8 percent to 10 percent.

Baxter offered its long-range projection as it holds its investor conference in Chicago.

Chief Executive Robert Parkinson told the conference that the growth strategy is based on optimizing its existing portfolio, expanding geographically, making investments in R&D, which is at a record, and business development.

He said the subject of business development, including acquisition opportunities, is a standard item on board meeting agendas.

Parkinson told analysts to expect a pick-up in small deals, but reiterated management's long-standing position that a large deal is not in Baxter's future.

The notion of a mega-deal is clearly not in our plans, he said.

As for smaller deals, Parkinson said they were still pricey.

Particularly in areas where we compete, he said. We're not going to do deals for the sake of doing deals.

The company has started 14 late-stage clinical trials over the past year, which include pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines.

I'm confident that many of these will advance to the finish line, Chief Scientific Officer Norbert Riedel told analysts.

Shares of Baxter were off 2 cents to $55.93 in early New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting by Debra Sherman in Chicago and Lewis Krauskopf in New York, editing by Dave Zimmerman)