July 18, 2018 / 12:14 PM / a year ago

Abbott Labs raises 2018 earnings forecast, shares hit record high

(Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories raised its full-year earnings forecast and topped estimates for quarterly profit on Wednesday, powered by demand for its glucose monitoring device for diabetics and gains from its multibillion dollar acquisitions.

FILE PHOTO: Traders gather at the booth that trades Abbott Laboratories on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, in New York, U.S., December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The diversified healthcare company’s shares rose as much as 4.3 percent to a record high. Analysts said they did not expect a raise at all because of the negative impact of a strengthening dollar on Abbott’s financials.

“I was surprised by their ability to raise EPS guidance absorbing a greater currency hit,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Glenn Novarro told Reuters.

“It looks like they’re raising the midpoint of 2018 guidance by a few pennies, but it’s actually a lot more because they have to absorb over a 5 cent negative impact.”

Healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday trimmed its full-year sales forecast, citing a strengthening dollar.

Abbott now expects 2018 adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations to be $2.85 to $2.91, compared with a prior forecast of $2.80 to $2.90.

In the second quarter, revenue across the company’s four major businesses rose, with sales in its medical device unit increasing 11.3 percent.

The unit, which houses the sensor-based glucose monitoring system FreeStyle Libre, was the largest contributor to total sales with a 37 percent share.

“(FreeStyle Libre) hits the sweet spot,” Chief Executive Officer Miles White said on a conference call with analysts, adding that about two-thirds of current sales were to patients with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

The company estimates the device will have more than a million users by the end of the year, up from 800,000 at the end of the second quarter.

Abbott’s results also got a boost from last year’s acquisitions of rivals St. Jude Medical and Alere for a combined $30 billion.

The Alere buy helped diagnostics business sales surge 47 percent to $1.87 billion, as it added infectious disease and cholesterol tests to Abbott’s portfolio.

Overall, net sales rose 17 percent to $7.78 billion, beating estimates of $7.71 billion.

Net earnings more than doubled to $733 million in the three months ended June 30.

Excluding items, the company earned 73 cents per share, ahead of analysts’ average estimate of 71 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sweta Singh

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