What: Shares of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), a diversified healthcare products company that offers everything from generic pharmaceuticals to diagnostic and nutritional products, surged 14% in July, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The strong uptick in Abbott's share price can likely be traced to three events in July.
So what: First and foremost, Abbott Laboratories reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings results. For the quarter, revenue rose 3% to $5.3 billion, or 6% when currency translation effects are excluded. Adjusted profit for the quarter was $0.55 per share, a 6% increase from Q2 2015, and higher than its own previous guidance. By comparison, Wall Street had been anticipating that Abbott Laboratories would report a profit of $0.53 per share on $5.24 billion in sales.
Secondly, a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month shows that Abbott CEO Miles White purchased 1,281,500 shares of Abbott's common stock on July 25. Although a CEO purchase doesn't guarantee that a stock will head higher, the simple fact that management is putting its own money on the line and aligning its financial interests with that of their shareholders is often viewed as a positive sign.
The final catalyst is a bit of an oddball. In late July, diagnostics company Alere (NYSE:ALR), which Abbott has agreed to purchase for $5.8 billion, announced that federal investigators had opened a criminal probe into its billing actions. Mind you, this probe follows delays in Alere's filing of its financial statements, too. Abbott had previously sought to nullify its acquisition of Alere because of the delay in reporting its financial results, but Alere's board rejected the move to end the buyout. This criminal probe could be the straw that allows Abbott to walk away from Alere's seemingly endless drama.
Now what: It was a great quarter all around for Abbott Labs, which saw every single segment deliver mid- to high-single-digit operational growth. Standouts during the quarter include point-of-care diagnostics with 11.5% operational growth, emerging-market pharmaceutical growth of 15.9% on an operational basis, and 8.9% growth from its vascular medical device line.
It's tough not to like the steady growth that Abbott can deliver for investors over the long term. Medical devices and diagnostics give Abbott a way to cater to the growing personalization of medicine and the aging of America, while its pharmaceutical segment gives the company a way of capitalizing on strong growth in overseas markets.
For their troubles of owning Abbott, shareholders are going to receive a healthy 2.3% dividend yield, and a company with EPS growth potential of nearly 10% per year throughout the remainder of the decade. Patient investors would be wise to give Abbott Laboratories a closer look.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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