Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) will be spinning off its branded pharmaceuticals department into a new company, AbbVie, an event that will take place at the beginning of 2013. But while Abbott shareholders aren't due to get their special dividend of one share of AbbVie for each share of Abbott that they own until Jan. 1, shares of the new company are already trading on a when-issued basis. Late last week, Motley Fool health care bureau chief Brenton Flynn discussed how this allows us to see the market's valuation of the stock a bit early and why its current price shows that there may be some patent cliff fears.

Brenton FlynnDavid Williamson, and The Motley Fool have no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.