January 23, 2019 / 1:39 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 3-Abbott misses revenue estimates, sees lackluster first-qtr profit

(Adds details on organic sales growth, analyst comment, updates shares)

By Manas Mishra

Jan 23 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories missed analysts’ estimates for fourth-quarter revenue on Wednesday due to lower sales of its generic drugs in emerging markets as well as a strong dollar, and also forecast current-quarter profit below expectations.

Shares of the Chicago-based company were down 2.1 percent at $70.02 in afternoon trading.

“I know the world worries about the volatility of those markets and the reliability of those markets, and in particular, currency,” Chief Executive Officer Miles White said on a conference call.

He added he thought the underlying growth rates in emerging markets were solid, and that the company could power through the “windiness of the currency markets.”

A strengthening dollar is expected to hurt profits at large medical device makers that derive a large chunk of their revenue from outside the United States.

Abbott said it expects adjusted earnings of 60 cents to 62 cents per share in the first quarter, below estimates of 64 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

“Some may look at these results and guidance as nothing too special, especially since Abbott had a lower tax rate than what we were anticipating, which helped this quarter’s results,” Edward Jones analyst John Boylan said.

Abbott forecast full-year organic sales growth in the range of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent, after posting a 7.3 percent organic sales growth in 2018.

Cowen and Co analyst Joshua Jennings said he is optimistic that Abbott can continue to generate above consensus results in 2019, given the consistency and strength of its top-line growth.

Fourth-quarter sales in the company’s pharmaceuticals unit, which sells generic drugs in countries such as India and China, fell 4.8 percent to $1.09 billion, while analysts on average had expected $1.16 billion.

A better-than-expected 6.7 percent rise in sales at the medical device segment, its largest, partly lifted the overall sales by 2.3 percent to $7.77 billion, but missed expectation of $7.82 billion.

The company posted net earnings of $654 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $828 million a year earlier, when it had taken a $1.4 billion charge related to the U.S. tax overhaul.

Excluding items, the company earned 81 cents per share, in line with estimates.

Reporting by Manas Mishra and Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Sweta Singh and Sriraj Kalluvila

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