Twelve of 15 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters have buy ratings on Abbott. However, fans and critics alike wonder if Abbott can sustain the torrid overseas growth-rates for drugs and nutritional products when the U.S. dollar strengthens. About half of drug and nutritional-product revenue comes from foreign markets.

Because Abbott's research pipeline isn't as broad as its peers, any R&D or regulatory setback could have a disproportionate effect, says Conover.

Citigroup's Matthew Dodds advocates selling shares, complaining that Abbott has strayed from the balanced portfolio of the mid- to late-1990s and arguing that company growth forecasts appear too optimistic.

Abbott's revenue was once spread fairly evenly among drugs, nutritional products and hospital products, Dodds says in a July 16 report. But acquisitions in 2001 and 2006 plus the 2004 spinoff that formed Hospira ( HSP) have changed Abbott.

"We believe an increased focus on pharmaceuticals has increased Abbott's risk profile," says Dodds, whose firm has had a recent investment banking relationship. By his count, 80% of operating profit comes from drugs.

Dodds, who doesn't own shares, says the stock could fall to $50 in 12 months. He says the current price doesn't support his 2009 earnings-per-share prediction of $3.42. The Thomson Reuters consensus is $3.66.

Based on second-quarter data, drugs account for 56% of corporate revenue and nutritional products represent 17%. Diagnostics, vascular products and other products, primarily diabetes care, are the other specialties. In early 2007, Abbott agreed to sell most of its diagnostics business to General Electric ( GE), but they cancelled the deal later that year.

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