Abbott Splits in Two

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. ( TheStreet) -- Abbott ( ABT), the diversified healthcare products company, is poised to become a bit less so after announcing plans Wednesday to split operations into two publicly traded businesses.

The company also reported a higher profit and revenues for the third quarter and narrowed previous guidance for 2011 earnings while maintaining its forecast for double-digit growth.

Abbott shares were up almost 8% to $56.50 in early Wednesday trading.

Under the plan announced today, Abbott will create a company focused on diversified medical products consisting of medical devices, established generic pharmaceuticals, diagnostic and nutritional businesses. This company, which will retain the Abbott name, will have sales of approximately $22 billion and be led by current Abbott CEO Miles White.

The second company, as yet unnamed but with current sales of around $18 billion, will take over Abbott's research-based drug business an pipeline focused on specialty markets such as multiple sclerosis, immunology and hepatitis C. The research company's drug roster will include Abbott's biologic, or biotech drugs, including the rheumatoid arthritis blockbuster Humira.

Existing Abbott shareholders will receive equity in each of the two new companies. Abbott says both companies will pay a divided that when combined, will equal the current Abbott dividend.

"Today's news is a significant event for Abbott, and reflects another dynamic change in our company's 123-year history, strengthening our outlook for strong and sustainable growth and shareholder returns," said White, in a statement.

For the third quarter, Abbott reported adjusted earnings of $1.18 a share, an increase of 12% over the prior year and one penny higher than the Street's consensus. Revenue in the quarter increased 13% year over year to 9.82 billion, again, topping Street expectations.

Abbott narrowed its 2011 earnings guidance to a range of $4.64 per share to $4.66 per share from previous forecast of $4.58 per share to $4.68 per share. Current consensus calls for Abbott to earn $4.64 per share in 2011.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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