Diabetes device demand helps Abbott trounce profit estimate

Jan 25 (Reuters) – Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, underpinned by strong demand for the U.S. healthcare company’s diagnostics business and glucose monitoring device FreeStyle Libre.

Abbott’s Freestyle Libre has been driving the sales of its medical devices, offsetting a decline in COVID-19 diagnostic test sales as infections wane.

The company recorded $1.1 billion in sales of FreeStyle Libre, with the U.S. market recording a growth of more than 40%.

Still, Abbott’s nutrition business continued to be hit by disruptions seen at the baby formula facility in the first half of 2022.

The Michigan plant, which was at the center of the U.S. baby formula shortage last year, faces a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. The facility was reopened after the regulator and the company reached an agreement.

The Illinois-based company on Wednesday reported $1.82 billion in overall nutrition sales, an 11% drop from year-ago numbers, with the U.S. pediatric nutrition revenue down by about a fifth.

Excluding one-off items, the multinational healthcare giant reported a profit of $1.03 per share for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, higher than analysts’ average estimate of 92 cents.

The company also announced an adjusted profit forecast of $4.30 to $4.50 per share for 2023, with the mid-point marginally lower than analysts’ average estimate of $4.41.

Shares of Abbott were down 3% at $109 in premarket trade.

The company also forecast its full-year 2023 organic sales growth, excluding COVID-testing-related sales, of high-single digits.

It expects COVID-testing-related annual sales of around $2 billion. In the fourth quarter, the company recorded $1.1 billion in COVID-related sales, around half of what it did in the previous year.

Reporting by Leroy Leo and Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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