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posted: 7/18/2012 10:02 AM

Abbott profit tops estimates as sales of Humira increase

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Bloomberg News

Abbott Laboratories, in the process of splitting into two companies, reported second-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates as sales increased for the company's top-selling drug, arthritis medicine Humira.

Earnings excluding one-time items of $1.23 a share beat by 1 cent the average of 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 2 percent to $9.8 billion, helped by $2.3 billion in Humira sales, the Libertyville Township-based company said in a statement today.

Abbott said that the breakup into one company focused on new drugs and the other on medical devices, generic medicines and nutritional drinks is still set for the end of the year. Bond investors are looking for Abbott to provide details on what will happen with its credit ratings at that point, said Joel Levington, managing director of corporate credit at Brookfield Investment in New York.

"A solid performance for Abbott," Levington said in an e- mail today. "However, for bondholders the cloud over the credit profile remains."

Abbott rose less than 1 percent to $66.51 at 9:38 a.m. New York time. The shares had gained 25 percent in the last 12 months through yesterday.

Net income declined 11 percent to $1.73 billion, or $1.08 a share, from $1.94 billion, or $1.23, Abbott said. Costs relating to the split-up reduced results by 4 cents a share, while expenses from asset acquisitions cut 5 cents a share.

Excluding the foreign currency impact, global sales would have risen 6.7 percent, the company said. Abbott reiterated its forecast of full-year earnings, excluding one-time items, of $5 to $5.10 a share.

The pharmaceutical side of Abbott has experimental therapies for the treatment of hepatitis C, and is in a race with drugmakers including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Gilead Sciences Inc. to develop new methods of treatment for the virus.

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