As Abbott Laboratories' (ABT) - Get Report $7.9 billion deal for Alere (ALR) awaits regulatory clearance, the healthcare company reported strong first-quarter results and hinted that additional dealmaking remains a priority. 

Abbott--with diagnostics, nutrition, medical devices and established pharmaceuticals segments--said Wednesday it posted first-quarter sales of about $4.9 billion, a 5.1% increase year-over-year on an operational basis.  

The Abbott Park, Ill., company posted adjusted earnings per share of 41 cents for the period ended March 31, exceeding analyst expectations. Abbott also boosted its full-year 2016 adjusted EPS guidance range for continuing operations to $2.14 to $2.24, from $2.10 to $2.20. 

The medical device maker's CEO and chairman, Miles White, asserted on a Wednesday morning call with investors that it wasn't appropriate to comment on Abbott's commitment to the Alere deal, acknowledging that the diagnostics company has had some delays in filing its Form 10-K and that the timing of when it will file a proxy or hold a shareholder vote remains uncertain. 

Abbott's agreement to acquire Alere, which provides infectious disease, molecular, cardiometabolic and toxicology point-of-care testing, was announced on Feb. 1 and remains subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission. The transaction values Alere's equity at about $5.58 billion.

The delay of the target's financial filings are a result of questions about the validity of some overseas revenue.

Abbott shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, slid 2 cents to $43.82 Wednesday morning.

Alere shares tumbled $6.82, or 13.8%, to $42.65.

The CEO wouldn't elaborate on future M&A plans, but he hinted that Abbott remains well-positioned on the deal front. 

"I don't feel unreasonably constrained at all," White said on the conference call, referring to the company's capacity for further M&A.

"For things I think are on my radar screen, I think we're in good shape here," White said. 

Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen inquired whether deals valued between $5 billion and $7 billion continue to be Abbott's "sweet spot" for M&A, but company executives did not say. 

Despite confirming that both M&A and its vascular business remain a high priority, White indicated Abbott has "sidelined to a degree" its efforts on the branded generic pharmaceutical front. 

On top of currency and exchange headwinds in a number of countries, value expectations have been as high as 25 to 30 times Ebitda, the CEO noted. 

"We have to be prudent about when we invest and how we invest in those markets," White said, while noting that Abbott continues to look for opportunities in diagnostics and devices.