Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) has given investors plenty to like through the years. It's achieved market-leading positions with all of its businesses. The company has increased its dividend payout for 49 consecutive years.

Now there's even more to like. Abbott provided its third-quarter update before the market opened on Wednesday. Here are three things that investors should love about the healthcare-giant's Q3 results.

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1. Big revenue and earnings beats

Abbott's shares rose more than 2% on Wednesday after its Q3 earnings update. This gain was unsurprising, considering that Abbott beat Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates.

The consensus analyst estimate was for Abbott to generate revenue of $9.56 billion in the third quarter. The company blew past that estimate with Q3 revenue of $10.9 billion. This result reflected a 23.4% year-over-year increase on a reported basis and a 22.4% jump on an organic basis, adjusting for the impact of currency fluctuations.

Abbott announced Q3 diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.17, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). The company reported adjusted diluted EPS of $1.40, up 42.9% year over year and well above the $0.94 expected by Wall Street.

2. Strong non-COVID-19 growth

COVID-19 continued to serve as a huge growth driver for Abbott. The company reported sales of $1.9 billion in Q3 for its COVID-19 tests, which include the BinaxNOW, Panbio, and ID NOW rapid tests. 

However, Abbott also saw strong growth that wasn't related to COVID-19. Excluding COVID testing-related sales, the company's Q3 sales jumped 11.7%, compared to the same quarter of 2019.

The company's Ensure, Pedialyte, and Glucerna nutrition products kept their sales momentum going in Q3. Abbott's molecular-diagnostics revenue rose 14.9% year over year, excluding all COVID-19 testing. Its generic drugs enjoyed solid growth, as well, especially in China, India, and Russia.

Medical-device sales were especially robust, soaring 18.5% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Abbott's FreeStyle Libre and Libre Sense diabetes management devices chalked up Q3 sales of $968 million, up 41.6% year over year.

3. Increased guidance

Investors like strong growth and better-than-expected revenue and earnings. But what they really love is when a company has more optimistic expectations for its future. Abbott gave investors what they wanted on this front, as well.

The company increased its full-year 2021 GAAP earnings guidance to a range of $3.55 to $3.65. It previously expected GAAP earnings for the year would be between $2.75 and $2.95.

Abbott also boosted its adjusted earnings guidance for the full year. It now looks for adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations to be between $5 and $5.10, excluding specified items. The company's previous outlook projected that adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations would be between $4.30 and $4.50.

More good news on the way?

Several other recent developments could translate to even more good news for Abbott in the near future. The company won U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its Amplatzer Amulet stroke-prevention device in August. In September, the FDA approved Abbott's Portico with FlexNav transcatheter aortic valve-replacement system in treating individuals with severe aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aortic valve opening) who have a high or extreme risk of requiring open-heart surgery.

Abbott also completed its acquisition of Walk Vascular in the third quarter. Walk Vascular markets medical devices used to remove peripheral blood clots, a great fit with the company's vascular medical-device business.

Abbott's financial fortunes could vary somewhat depending on the future demand for COVID-19 testing. However, it remains a seemingly unstoppable stock that's likely to be a winner for a long to come.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.