With dozens of companies having already reported, earnings season has started ramping up. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarter reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed kneejerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

Let's turn to Abbott (NYSE:ABT). The newly slimmed-down company has finalized its spinoff of AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), and will now focus on medical devices, diagnostics, and nutritional products, as well as generic drugs. But given that the spinoff took place after the fourth quarter ended, how will Abbott do in its final report as a combined company? Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Abbott over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report next Wednesday morning.

Stats on Abbott

Analyst EPS Estimate


Change from Year-Ago EPS


Revenue Estimate

$10.58 billion

Change from Year-Ago Revenue


Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters


Source: Yahoo Finance. Figures do not reflect spinoff of AbbVie.

Will Abbott give investors what they want to see?
Abbott has a history of minor earnings beats, with the company typically managing to post an extra penny or two of earnings per share. After accounting for the impact of the AbbVie spinoff, shares have been roughly flat since the company's October earnings report.

Much of the attention that Abbott has gotten has come from the pharmaceutical side of the business, where blockbuster drug Humira represents a huge portion of its overall revenue. But, for investors who stuck with Abbott rather than keeping shares of AbbVie, it'll take some effort to focus on the other parts of the former health-care conglomerate.

Abbott has plenty of projects going right now. Its Absorb drug-eluting stent, which is made of dissolvable material, is available in Europe, and is now seeking FDA approval, pending results from its ABSORB-III clinical trial. Abbott hopes that its stent will dethrone Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), which expects to get FDA approval for its new line of stents before the Absorb .

In a recent presentation, Abbott is looking to expand in emerging markets and boost its margins. Its generics business presents opportunities that many of its peers lack, as Abbott manages generics with more of a consumer focus, borrowing from the approach that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) takes with its popular consumer-facing over-the-counter brands. Moreover, rapid growth prospects in emerging markets could help pull up the company's results, especially in diagnostic testing and medical devices. Moreover, nutritionals offer big prospects in China and elsewhere.

The key for those looking at Abbott's results is to remember to focus on whichever part of the business you own. For Abbott investors, keeping your eye on the non-pharma business may take some getting used to, but it has plenty of potential for growth.

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