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Abbott Q4 Diagnostics Revenues up 111 Percent, FY20 Revenues up 9 Percent

Note: This story has been updated with comments from Abbott's earnings call.

NEW YORK — Abbott reported Wednesday that its fourth quarter diagnostics revenues rose 111 percent year over year due to strong sales related to the firm's COVID-19 products.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020 the Abbott Park, Illinois-based firm reported overall revenues of $10.7 billion, up 29 percent from $8.31 billion a year ago and beating the consensus Wall Street estimate of $9.94 billion. Organic sales, which excluded the impact of foreign exchange, grew 28 percent year over year.

Abbott said revenues from its diagnostics business rose 111 percent from the prior-year quarter to $4.35 billion from $2.10 billion. Within diagnostics, core laboratory revenues grew 6 percent to $1.32 billion from $1.25 billion; molecular revenues climbed 315 percent to $482 million from $116 million; point-of-care revenues fell nearly 6 percent to $129 million from $137 million in the year-ago quarter; and rapid diagnostics revenues were $2.41 billion, up 334 percent from $556 million in the prior-year quarter.

Global COVID-19 testing-related sales were $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, with $1.9 billion coming from Abbott's rapid testing platforms, including the BinaxNow, Panbio, and ID Now tests, the firm said.

On a conference call to discuss the company's financial results, Abbott CEO Robert Ford said it has delivered more than 400 million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began, with more than 300 million delivered in Q4 alone. The firm also ramped up its manufacturing capacity for rapid tests and produces more than 100 million BinaxNow and Panbio tests per month combined, Ford said.

He added that the company has greatly boosted its capacity since the pandemic began but hasn't yet mobilized all of it. "There's … sufficient testing capacity for us to be able to meet this growing demand right now," he said.

Abbott's nutrition revenues rose 4 percent to $1.94 billion from $1.87 billion; established pharmaceuticals revenues fell 2 percent to $1.15 billion from $1.17 billion; and medical devices revenues rose 2 percent to $3.26 billion from $3.20 billion.

Ford said Abbott expects the recovery of its base businesses, such as medical devices and routine testing. In Q3 of 2020 as hospitalization rates decreased, core testing began to pick up, although it was put on hold by the COVID-19 spike that came during the holiday season. "We actually saw growth in several months in Q3 and going into Q4 … We've seen that these can recover," he added.

Abbott reported net earnings of $2.16 billion, or $1.20 per share, in Q4 2020 compared to $1.05 billion, or $.59 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted EPS for the recently completed quarter was $1.45 and beat the consensus Wall Street estimate of $1.35.

The firm spent $698 million on R&D in Q4 2020, up 18 percent from $595 million in Q4 2019, and logged $2.57 billion in SG&A expenses, up 7 percent from $2.41 billion in the prior-year quarter.

For full-year 2020, the firm reported total revenues of $34.61 billion, up 9 percent from $31.90 billion a year ago, beating the average Wall Street estimate of $33.87 billion.

Abbott reported $10.81 billion in diagnostics revenues in 2020, up 40 percent from $7.71 billion in 2019 and up 41 percent on an organic basis.

Within diagnostics, molecular diagnostics revenues totaled $1.44 billion in 2020, up 225 percent from $442 million in 2019. Core laboratory revenues were $4.48 billion, down 4 percent from $4.66 billion in 2019. Point-of-care revenues were $516 million, down 8 percent from $561 million a year ago, and rapid diagnostics revenues were $4.38 billion, up 113 percent from $2.05 billion in 2019.

In its other business units, 2020 nutrition revenues rose 3 percent year over year to $7.65 billion from $7.41 billion; established pharmaceuticals revenues fell 4 percent to $4.30 billion from $4.49 billion; and medical devices revenues fell 4 percent to $11.79 billion from $12.24 billion.

Abbott's 2020 R&D expenses decreased 1 percent to $2.42 billion from $2.44 billion, while its SG&A expenses decreased less than a percent to $9.70 billion from $9.77 billion.

The company reported a 2020 net income of $4.50 billion, or $2.50 per share, compared to $3.69 billion, or $2.06 per share, in 2019. The firm's 2020 adjusted EPS from continuing operations was $3.65 per share. It beat the consensus Wall Street estimate of $3.54.

Abbott said it anticipates full-year 2021 earnings per share from continuing operations of at least $3.74. Adjusted EPS from continuing operations for 2021 is expected to be at least $5.00. Ford said he expects COVID-19 testing to continue to be a big driver of Abbott's revenue even as vaccines continue to roll out. "I don't think we've even seen testing demand peak yet," he said.

On the mergers and acquisitions side, Ford said the company is always looking for opportunities but continued that any deals in 2021 would likely "be tuck-in in nature" to augment some of the firm's existing portfolios.

In Wednesday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchanges, Abbott's stock increased two percent to $117.06.

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