Abbott Labs ( ABT) reported strong Humira sales and edged just above third-quarter estimates Wednesday. But the drugmaker, which is gearing up for potential product approvals in the first half of next year, suffered off-setting charges related to its Guidant acquisition. Abbott earned 67 cents a share, excluding items, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, on sales of $6.4 billion. The results beat the 58 cents a share it earned in the prior-year period as well as the company's guidance of 64 cents to 66 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 66 cents a share on revenue of $6.2 billion. However, charges left the company reporting net earnings of $717 million, or 46 cents a share after items, flat with the $716 million, or 46 cents a share, it reported in the comparable 2006 quarter. U.S. pharmaceutical sales increased 18% and international pharmaceutical sales increased 22%, driven by double-digit growth in Humira (for Crohn's disease), HIV treatment Kaletra and cholesterol drug TriCor, as well as $167 million of sales from cholesterol drug Niaspan. Worldwide medical products sales increased 12%, supported by 14% growth in diabetes care sales, 15% growth in Abbott Vascular sales and 14% growth in diagnostics sales. Humira sales in particular increased 49% globally to $803 million. Looking ahead, based on the sales performance of Humira, Abbott estimates 2007 global sales of $3 billion. Abbott launched Humira in the U.S. and Europe for Crohn's disease in the first half of 2007. It also has filed for regulatory approval for psoriasis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, expecting to launch the drug as a treatment for those indications in the first half of 2008. (It's also in phase III development for ulcerative colitis).
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).