Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) reported a marked increase in fourth-quarter earnings as the drugmaker’s strong product portfolio boosted sales in the key markets. The results matched Wall Street’s projection. The company also provided guidance for fiscal 2020. The stock gained during Wednesday’s premarket session, soon after the announcement.
Earnings from continuing operations, on an adjusted basis, moved up to $0.95 per share from $0.81 per share last year, in line with the market’s expectation. Net income was $1.05 billion or $0.59 per share, up from $654 million or $0.37 per share reported a year earlier.
Driving the earnings growth, sales advanced 7.1% annually to $8.3 billion, aided by a 9% increase in organic sales. Analysts had forecast a slightly lower top-line number.
During the three-month period, Medical Devices sales grew 9.7%, aided by double-digit organic sales growth in the Heart Failure, Electrophysiology, Structural Heart and Diabetes Care segments. There was a 7.8% increase in Established Pharmaceuticals sales, which mainly reflects strong growth in Latin America and Asia.
Core Laboratory Diagnostics sales grew 8.4% in the fourth quarter as the Alinity family of diagnostic instruments witnessed solid adoption in the US and overseas. Meanwhile, worldwide Nutrition sales increased by 5.2 percent.
“Our focus on organic growth is driving top-tier performance. We’re entering 2020 with very good momentum and targeting continued strong growth,” said CEO Miles White.
Buoyed by the positive results, the management has forecast organic sales growth for fiscal 2020 in the range of 7% to 8%, including the impact of foreign exchange. Full-year earnings from continuing operations, on an unadjusted basis, are estimated to be between $2.35 per share and $2.45 per share. The company is looking for adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $3.55-$3.65 per share, reflecting double-digit growth at the mid-point.
For the first quarter, Abbott forecasts unadjusted earnings from continuing operations of $0.40-$0.42 per share. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations are expected to be between $0.69 per share and $0.71 per share in the first three months of 2020.
The board of directors raised the quarterly dividend by 12.5% to $0.36 per share during the quarter, which is payable on February 14, 2020, to shareholders of record on January 15, 2020.
Abbott’s shares climbed to a record high this week, ahead of the earnings release, after gaining steadily in recent weeks. The stock moved up 26% in the past twelve months and 4% since the beginning of the year.
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