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Abbott Forecasts 2013 Earnings That Meets Analyst Estimates

Abbott Laboratories, the medical device and nutritional products maker, forecast 2013 earnings in line with analyst estimates after splitting off its drug business this month.

Full-year profit excluding one-time items may be $1.98 to $2.04 a share, Abbott Park, Illinois-based Abbott said in a statement today. Analysts estimate annual earnings of $1.96, according to the average of 23 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Abbott, which also sells diagnostic tests and generic medicines, separated the drug division into a new company on Jan. 1.

Sales from the businesses that comprise the new Abbott were strong, particularly nutritional products and diagnostics, said Jeff Jonas, co-portfolio manager of the Gabelli Healthcare & Wellness Trust fund. The combined company posted sales of $10.8 billion in the quarter, up from $10.4 billion a year earlier.

“The fourth quarter was pretty strong across the board,” Jonas said in a telephone interview. “The guidance was ahead of what most on the Street was looking for, potentially beating $2 a share if they come in at the high end of guidance.”

Earnings excluding one-time items of $1.51 a share beat by 1 cent the consensus estimate due to stronger than expected sales, said Danielle Antalffy, an analyst at Leerink Swann & Co. in New York.

The company today reported fourth-quarter profit declined 35 percent in its last quarter as a consolidated company, due to costs related to Abbott’s separation of its drug unit and discharge of debt. Net income decreased to $1.05 billion, or 66 cents a share, from $1.6 billion, or $1.02, a year earlier.

Abbott fell less than 1 percent to $32.81 at 4 p.m. in New York trading. AbbVie Inc., the new North Chicago, Illinois-based drug company spun off from Abbott, rose 3.8 percent to $37.80.

AbbVie, which sells the rheumatoid arthritis medicine Humira and the other prescription drugs, is scheduled to announce its earnings forecast on a Jan. 30 conference call.

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