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Abbott Laboratories Tops Q1 Earnings Forecast, Pulls 2020 Guidance

Abbott, which received FDA approval for a "five minute" coronavirus test last month, said uncertainties linked to the pandemic's "duration and impact" forced it to suspend 2020 profit guidance.

Abbott Laboratories  (ABT)  posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings Thursday but scrapped its full-year profit guidance amid uncertainty over the "duration and impact" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Abbott said earnings for the three months ending in March came in at 65 cents per share, up 3.2% from the same period last year and 7 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues also impressed, rising 2.5% to $7.7 billion and again topping analysts' estimates of a $7.4 billion tally.

Looking into the 2020 fiscal year, Abbot said it would suspend its prior profit forecasts, which called for adjusted  earnings of between $3.55 and $3.65 per share, "due to uncertainties regarding the duration and impact of the coronavirus pandemic." 

"First and foremost, I want to thank our employees, our customers, and our suppliers for their extraordinary efforts to maintain a supply of our critically important products to the people who need them, around the world," said CEO Robert Ford. "It's an unprecedented time and our colleagues are rising to it in unprecedented ways."  

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Abbott shares were marked 0.5% higher in pre-market trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate an opening bell price of $91.45 each, a move that would nudge the stock's year-to-date gain to around 5.3%.

Last month, the Chicago, Illinois-based group received emergency Food & Drug Administration approval for a small, portable unit that can detect positive coronavirus results in at little as five minutes.

President Donald Trump said the FDA was able to approve Abbot's application in just four weeks, while Abbott said it hopes to it can administer at least 50,000 tests a day once it's able to increase manufacturing of the kits, and plans to deliver some of them as early as this week.

"On Friday, the FDA authorized a new test developed by Abbott Labs that delivers lightning-fast results in as little as five minutes," Trump told reporters during a press conference. "That's a whole new ballgame. I want to thank Abbott Labs for the incredible work they've done. They've been working around the clock."