Wednesday, January 23 16:02:16
AbbVie, the new branded pharmaceuticals company spun off by Abbott Laboratories, is off to a good start, judging by fourth-quarter sales of arthritis drug Humira and other products in its medicine chest.
Analysts said the picture, although healthy, could be more challenging for the remaining Abbott, nicknamed "new Abbott," which continues to sell medical devices, diagnostics, nutritional products and generic drugs.
Abbott said it expects earnings for 2013, excluding special items, of $1.98 to $2.04 per share, in line with its earlier guidance and above the average Wall Street forecast of $1.95.
Fourth-quarter sales of products that remain with Abbott were $5.7 billion, roughly in line with analysts' forecasts. The company did not provide comparable sales figures for the fourth quarter of 2011.
Global sales of branded drugs that now belong to AbbVie rose 7.4 percent to $5.14 billion in the fourth quarter, topping the $4.8 billion estimate of Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen. The rise would have been 8.5 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which lowers the value of sales in overseas markets.
Sales of Humira, by far AbbVie's biggest product, jumped 23 percent to $2.68 billion, about $200 million above Biegelsen's estimate.
That represented a marked acceleration of sales growth from the prior two quarters and underscores how reliant AbbVie is on the injectable product, which is expected to become the world's top-selling medicine this year.
AbbVie, spun off by Abbott earlier this month, is expected to report its interpretation of the fourth-quarter results and its 2013 forecast on Jan. 30.
Among top product lines still sold by Abbott, sales of nutritional brands jumped 10.2 percent to $1.71 billion in the fourth quarter, and sales of laboratory diagnostics grew 3.8 percent to $908 million. Sales of diabetes care products rose 3.1 percent to $362 million, reversing a 10 percent decline seen in the prior quarter. (C ) Reuters