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Abbott Labs Starts 2019 Off by Beating Expectations

By Keith Speights – Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 3:59PM

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The big healthcare company reported strong earnings growth in Q1.

So far in 2019, Abbott Laboratories (ABT -0.37%) has had a reasonably good year, with its stock up 5.6% to date earlier this week. The question now is: Can the company pick up even more momentum?

Abbott Labs announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Wednesday. Did investors receive good news or bad news? Here are the highlights from Abbott Laboratories' first-quarter update. 

Three scientists in a lab

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Abbott Labs announced Q1 revenue of $7.5 billion, a 2% increase from the $7.4 billion reported in the same quarter of the previous year. The company's reported revenue was slightly higher than the average analysts' revenue estimate of $7.47 billion.

How did Abbott Labs' bottom line look in the first quarter? The company reported net earnings of $672 million, or $0.38 per share, on a GAAP basis, compared to $409 million, or $0.23 per share, in the same period in 2018.

The company's adjusted net earnings in the first quarter were $0.63 per share. This was an improvement over Abbott Labs' result in the prior-year period, when the company announced adjusted net earnings of $0.59 per share. It was also better than the consensus analysts' adjusted earnings estimate of $0.61 per share.

Behind the numbers

Abbott Lab's nutrition sales rose 2% worldwide in Q1. This rise was due largely to growth in Asian and Latin American sales, especially for the company's infant and toddler brands, and from higher sales of Ensure and Glucerna.

Diagnostic sales increased by only 0.2% in Q1, including an unfavorable impact from foreign exchange of 4.2%. The company's Alinity diagnostic system was a key growth driver. 

Established pharmaceutical sales for Abbott Labs fell 4.9% year over year. However, this decrease was due to a 10.3% negative impact from currency fluctuation. On an organic basis, established pharmaceutical sales increased by 5.4%.

Medical device sales rose by 5.5% in the first quarter. This increase stemmed from solid growth in electrophysiology, heart failure, structural heart, and diabetes care. 

Abbott Labs also had several key achievements in the first quarter:

  • U.S. FDA approval for expansion of MitraClip -- a clinical device in treating secondary mitral regurgitation.
  • U.S. FDA approval for TactiCath Contact Force Ablation Catheter -- a device for physician use to help treat atrial fibrillation.
  • Alinity gained its CE mark (the European stamp of approval), allowing labs to test infectious diseases at a more accurate and timely pace with this diagnostic system.

Looking ahead

Abbott Labs anticipates GAAP earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95 to $2.05. The company also expects its second-quarter GAAP EPS to be between $0.47 and $0.49.

In Abbott's fourth-quarter conference call in January, Chairman and CEO Miles D. White was enthusiastic about his company's performance, saying that 2018 "was an excellent year by every measure." White thinks 2019 will also be a good year.

He stated in Abbott's Q1 press release that the company is "right on track with our expectations to start the year." White added that "all of our key long-term growth drivers are performing well and we're targeting another year of strong sales and earnings growth."

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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