Oct 21 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories said it
expects demand for its COVID-19 tests to grow in 2021 even if a
vaccine is developed and for the business to eventually
stabilize into a lucrative new franchise.
It made the comments during its quarterly investor update,
where it raised its 2020 profit forecast on strong COVID-19
testing revenues and a recovery in its medical device business
as patients opt for surgeries they had put off due to the
COVID-19 testing, which earned Abbott $881 million in sales
in the most recent quarter, will eventually become a stable
franchise for Abbott like its influenza tests, Chief Executive
Robert Ford said during Abbott's earnings call.
The pandemic is creating new relationships with airports,
retailers and doctors offices, which will continue to purchase
its tests, he said.
Demand for molecular diagnostic tests may decline once
people receive COVID-19 vaccines but antibody tests, which
detect past infections, could get a boost, he said.
The company said sales in its medical devices unit rose
about 3% from the prior quarter to $3.17 billion, as its
cardiovascular and neuromodulation businesses improved. Sales in
its diagnostics unit jumped nearly 39% to $2.64 billion.
For an interactive graphic on Abbott's segment sales growth,
click here: (https://tmsnrt.rs/35fJzY2)
Abbott has U.S. authorization for several tests including
one in August for a $5 portable antigen test called BinaxNOW
that can deliver results in 15 minutes. It released a rapid test
in March called the ID Now that has been used by the White
House. It also makes lab-based diagnostic tests and antibody
Abbott has a $750 million contract with the U.S. government
to sell it 150 million BinaxNOW tests. Most will be distributed
to states for use in schools and other essential tasks.
The company said it expects 2020 adjusted profit per share
to be at least $3.55 from continuing operations, up from its
prior estimate of at least $3.25 per share.
Abbott's shares were down 3.2% at $104.86.
SVB Leerink's Danielle Antalffy said the stock's modest
underperformance could be because the company implied that some
of the COVID-driven upside or benefit would be reinvested in the
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru;
Editing by Arun Koyyur and Tom Brown)