The Abbott Park, Ill.-based company posted profits of $2.2 billion, or $1.20 per share, on sales of $10.7 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020, for a more than doubled bottom line on sales growth of 28.7%.
Adjusted to exclude one-time items, earnings per share were $1.45, 10¢ ahead of Wall Street, where analysts were looking for sales of $9.94 billion.
Three of Abbott’s four major businesses (nutrition, diagnostics and medical devices) saw growth in the quarter, while the company’s established pharmaceuticals arm dipped by -2.3%.
Diagnostics, in particular, saw a huge leap year-over-year, with $2.4 billion in COVID-19 testing revenue boosting the segment to more than $4.3 billion in sales, marking a 111.1% growth from 2019. Abbott has delivered 400 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests since the pandemic began, including 300 million in Q4 2020 alone, CEO Robert Ford told analysts during a call this morning.
Abbott’s BinaxNow rapid antigen test and its international counterpart, the PanBio COVID-19 Ag rapid diagnostic, led the quarter in diagnostics sales, he noted. Abbott has increased the manufacturing of these two tests to 100 million per month.
“We realized very early that a variety of different testing solutions would be required to handle the pandemic,” Ford said. “COVID testing has been a big driver for us and will continue to be a big driver. I expect testing demand will remain high even as the vaccine rolls out. I don’t think we’ve seen testing demand peak yet.”
Medical device sales were relatively flat, bringing in $3.3 billion for 1.7% growth, although U.S. sales dipped by -2.5%. Lower sales in cardiovascular and neuromodular devices were balanced out by a 30% jump in sales in the diabetes segment. Ford told analysts he expects medical procedure volumes to increase in late summer and fall 2021.
“Despite challenging conditions, we achieved double-digit EPS growth, delivered ground-breaking innovation and advanced our new product pipeline in 2020,” Ford said separately in a news release. “We exited the year with a lot of momentum and are forecasting EPS growth of more than 35% in 2021.”
Abbott said it now expects to log adjusted EPS of at least $5 for full-year 2021, with its diluted EPS expected to be at least $3.74.
Ford has high hopes for the company’s recently cleared handheld rapid test for concussions, which operates on its i-STAT Alinity platform, testing the patient’s plasma to provide results within 15 minutes. Abbott is also seeking FDA breakthrough device designation for a whole-blood point-of-care concussion test, which the company would market to 25,000 high schools and 5,000 colleges, he noted. “I see that as a great opportunity,” Ford said.
Abbott will focus on organic growth rather than mergers and acquisitions in 2021, the CEO added. That will include the Q1 international launch of the Freestyle Libre 3 continuous glucose monitor, which gained the CE Mark in September 2020, and the U.S. launch of the product pending FDA approval.
ABT shares were slightly up, rising 0.1% at $114.83 per share in early-morning trading. MassDevice’s MedTech 100 Index — which includes stocks of the world’s largest medical device companies — was down -1.9%.
Medical Design & Outsourcing managing editor Nancy Crotti contributed to this report.