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Healthcare

UPDATE 3-Abbott profit exceeds forecast; all units shine

* Q2 EPS ex-items, $1.01, vs. $1.00 forecast

* Drug sales jump 24.5 pct to $4.91 bln

* Abbott shares up 3.3 pct (Adds analyst comment, sales details, comparisons with J&J)

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories Inc ABT.N posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by strong sales growth for all of its key units, from prescription drugs to medical devices.

The company's shares rose more than 3 percent as analysts said the results compared favorably with a weak quarterly performance from diversified healthcare rival Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N, which is grappling with massive recalls of Tylenol and other consumer medicines. [ID:nN20247891]

“Abbott is a standout, and its stock is undervalued relative to its sustained growth potential,” said FAF Advisors analyst Tim Nelson.

Abbott said second-quarter net income was nearly unchanged at $1.29 billion, or 83 cents per share.

Excluding special items, profit rose 13.5 percent to $1.01 per share. Analysts on average expected $1.00, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Company sales increased 17.8 percent to $8.826 billion, a tad below the Thomson Reuters view of $8.839 billion. Revenue would have risen only 15.1 percent if not for the weaker dollar, which boosts the value of overseas sales.

By contrast, J&J reported minuscule revenue growth on Tuesday and cut its 2010 profit forecast for the second time this year, citing the repeated recalls as well as pricing pressures on its drugs in Europe.

Nelson said J&J shares had been trading at an unwarranted premium to Abbott. J&J’s stock price is 11 times expected 2011 per-share profit, compared with Abbott’s price-to-earnings ratio of 10.

“Abbott has been producing double-digit profit growth for several years, and is cheap” by comparison, Nelson said.

Standard & Poor’s on Wednesday held to its “buy” rating on Abbott, a day after slashing J&J to “hold” from “buy.”

For a graphic on how Abbott stands among global pharmaceutical companies, clickhere.

Abbott's global pharmaceutical sales rose 24.5 percent in the quarter to $4.91 billion, helped by products from its February acquisition of Solvay SA's SOLB.BR drug unit.

Sales of Abbott’s biggest product, its injectable Humira treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, rose 21.5 percent to $1.59 billion. But that represents a slowdown from growth of 37 percent in the first quarter.

Combined sales of Tricor and Trilipix, medicines that lower blood fats called triglycerides, rose 15.6 percent to $388 million.

Sales of Abbott's heart stents, including its top-selling Xience that has leapfrogged older products sold by Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp BSX.N, jumped 34 percent to $533 million.

The company’s core laboratory diagnostics reported 6.1 percent sales growth, to $793 million. Sales of pediatric nutritionals brands rose almost 12 percent to $763 million, while adult nutritionals rose about 9 percent to $639 million.

Abbott shares were up 3.3 percent at $49.02 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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