ABBOTT PARK, Ill. (

TheStreet

) -- It was Humira to the rescue for

Abbott Labs

(ABT) - Get Report

during the third quarter, as sales for the pharma operation's benchmark arthritis drug, in part, helped juice a 3.5% jump in sales and 36% growth in earnings during the quarter.

Looking ahead to the future, Abbott also boosted its 2009 profit expectations to $3.70 to $3.72 per share. Previously, the drug maker had given a range of $3.65 to $3.70.

Just after the opening bell and after the announcement, shares were bidding higher by 73 cents, or 1.5%, at $50.38.

According to a company release on Wednesday, Abbott said total sales grew 3.5% from the year-earlier quarter to $7.76 billion. In addition to the jump in Humira demand, sales on nutritional products for adults and children also grew during the quarter.

Net income jumped to $1.48 billion, or 95 cents per share, from $1.09 billion, or 69 cents per share in the year-earlier quarter. Profit would have landed at 92 cents per share after excluding certain items.

According to a survey of analysts from Thomson Reuters, earnings were expected at 90 cents per share, while sales were forecast to come in at $7.76 billion.

Abbott CEO Miles White highlighted the company's various acquisition plans during the quarter. In a bid to build up the company's international presence, for instance, Abbot announced

plans to buy

Solvay's

pharmaceutical unit for $6.6 billion, in a deal that is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

Elsewhere,

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

and

GlaxoSmithKline

(GSK) - Get Report

were each moving slightly higher in early morning trading, while

Johnson & Johnson

(JNJ) - Get Report

was down by 44 cents, or less than 0.7%..

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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