July 17, 2019 / 12:07 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 2-Diabetes devices power Abbott's profit beat, forecast raise

(Adds details on unit sales, analyst comment, shares)

By Saumya Joseph and Manas Mishra

July 17 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit and lifted its full-year adjusted earnings forecast on Wednesday, as the company benefits from strong demand for its blood sugar monitoring devices.

Shares of the company, which also makes heart devices and nutritional products for babies and adults, rose about 2% to $84.75 in early trading.

Sales of FreeStyle Libre, the company's continuous glucose monitor that helps diabetics track blood sugar levels without having to prick their fingers, surged 63.9% on a reported basis to $433 million in the second quarter.

FreeStyle Libre is one of Abbott's growth drivers and the company is working to launch newer versions of the device. The next-generation device, FreeStyle Libre 2, which is already approved in Europe, is now under U.S. regulatory review.

Abbott plans to boost manufacturing capacity for Libre by three to five times in the next few years, a company executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

"The momentum continues for its (Abbott's) key growth drivers and we don't believe it is slowing down any time soon," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Joanne Wuensch.

Sales at the diabetes unit jumped 28.2%, largely due to FreeStyle Libre, and helped Abbott's medical device division report a 6.4% rise in revenue to $3.08 billion.

The unit, which also makes heart devices, was expected to post a revenue of $3.10 billion, according to BMO.

Abbott raised its 2019 forecast for adjusted earnings from continuing operations to $3.21 to $3.27 per share, from its prior forecast of $3.15 to $3.25 per share.

The company's net earnings rose to $1 billion, or 56 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $733 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Abbott earned 82 cents per share, ahead of the average analyst estimate of 80 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net sales rose 2.7% to $7.98 billion, but missed estimates of $8 billion. (Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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