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Abbott Labs 3Q profit up without year-ago charges

WASHINGTON -- Drug and medical device maker Abbott Laboratories reported higher third-quarter profit Wednesday, edging past analyst expectations, even as revenue slipped.

The quarter's results benefitted from a 31 percent reduction in sales and administrative expenses, which came to $2.9 billion.

Net income for the three months through Sept. 30 jumped to $1.9 billion, or $1.21 per share, from $303 million, or 19 cents per share, a year ago. In 2011, Abbott's results included expenses from litigation, acquisitions and cost cutting efforts.

Excluding one-time items in the latest quarter, profit came to $1.30 per share. Revenue fell less than 1 percent to $9.77 billion from $9.82 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted earnings per share of $1.28, but higher revenue of $9.94 billion.

Shares fell $2.71, or 3.8 percent, to $69.42 in afternoon trading.

The company said revenue would have increased 4 percent without the negative impact of changes in currency exchange rates. Stripping out the effect of currency changes, revenue from the branded drugs business rose 6.4 percent, while for the division that sells products including nutritional formula, revenue rose 6.3 percent. Those are Abbott's largest divisions by revenue.

The drug and medical device company plans to spin off its pharmaceutical business into a separate company by the end of 2012. The new company, AbbVie, will focus solely on branded drugs, including the blockbuster anti-inflammatory drug Humira.

The split is meant to free the North Chicago, Ill., company from the risks and obligations of developing innovative pharmaceutical drugs, leaving it with a more predictable business built around nutritional formula, generic drugs and heart stents.

The company narrowed its full-year 2012 profit forecast to $5.06 to $5.08 per share from $5 to $5.10 per share. Analysts expect $5.06 per share.

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