April 21, 2010 / 12:17 PM / 8 years ago

CORRECTED - UPDATE 2-Abbott beats Street view, but trims forecast

(Corrects attribution of quote in paragraph 10; rewrites headline and first bullet point)

* Q1 EPS, ex-items, 84 cents vs 80 cents Street view

* Trims 2010 view, citing healthcare-reform costs

* Drugs, devices, nutritionals post double-digit sales gains

* Shares fall 1.8 pct (Adds details, analyst, company comment, shares, byline)

By Ransdell Pierson

NEW YORK, April 21 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories Inc reported better-than-expected earnings on booming sales growth for arthritis drug Humira and strong demand for its other medicines, medical devices and nutritional products.

But the company trimmed its 2010 profit forecast, citing costs of U.S. healthcare reforms, sparking a 1.8 percent decline in its shares.

Abbott (ABT.N) on Wednesday said it earned $1 billion, or 64 cents per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $1.44 billion, or 92 cents per share, in the year-earlier period when Abbott reported a gain of more than $500 million from winding down its longtime joint venture with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd (4502.T).

Excluding special items, including a 3 cents-per-share cost for recently approved U.S. healthcare reforms, Abbott earned 84 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 80 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

All three of Abbott’s businesses -- drugs, devices and nutritionals -- chalked up double-digit sales gains, helped in overseas markets by the weaker dollar.

“It was a solid quarter and shows the resilience Abbott has from the depth and breadth of its product lines,” Morningstar analyst Damien Conover said, adding that the strong sales were due, in part, to an improving economy.

Abbott cut its full-year profit forecast to between $4.13 and $4.18 per share, from its earlier forecast of $4.20 to $4.25. It cited costs of health-care reform, including mandated larger rebates on prices of its drugs used by patients in the Medicaid insurance program for the poor.

Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel said the mid-point of the lowered forecast would represent 12 percent growth this year, and give Abbott its fourth consecutive year of double-digit profit gains.

Conover said that among large drugmakers and diversified healthcare companies, Abbott is “best positioned” for uninterrupted strong sales and profit growth.

“Abbott’s growth is in the top-tier of the industry and we expect that to continue over the next few years because, unlike other top performers such as Bristol-Myers (BMY.N), Abbott is not facing major patent expirations,” Conover said.

Global company sales rose 14.6 percent to $7.70 billion, a tad below Wall Street’s expectations of $7.73 billion. Revenue growth would have been 4.1 percent lower if not for the weaker dollar, which boosts the value of overseas sales.

Worldwide sales of Humira, the company’s biggest product, jumped 37 percent to $1.4 billion. U.S. sales of the product leaped 32 percent, a resurgence from 3 percent growth in the fourth quarter.

Abbott’s shares were down about 1.8 percent, or 93 cents, at $52.18 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Maureen Bavdek)

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