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The last few years have brought big changes for
Abbott Laboratories (
ABT), the biggest being the spinoff of the firm's pharmaceutical business into
ABBV). Yanking the lucrative pharma segment out of Abbott's results provided investors with a much more distilled view of the firm's actual business and gave management a serious goal of shoring up its profitability in the very near-term. Pharma was a hugely profitable crutch for ABT, but its absence will ultimately make the firm a lot more competitive.
The new Abbott manufactures medical devices, nutritional products, diagnostic equipment and some generic drugs. To be sure, none of those are lackluster businesses to be in, but Abbott's over-reliance on its pharmaceutical segment has shown through. On the flip side, however, Abbott is now spared from the patent cliff that held a gun to the firm's head (and stock valuation) for the last several years, which is a plus.
Abbott still has some attractive cost cutting opportunities in the near-term, as it better integrates its existing product portfolio. Powerhouse offerings such as Xience stents and high-margin nutritional brands generate plenty of free cash flow, and the firm is already much leaner after applying its spin-off proceeds to its debt load. Shorter-term, rising analyst sentiment in shares is our reason for tacking ABT to the top of our Rocket Stock list.