UPDATE 1-Abbott tops profit estimates on strong medical device sales

(Adds estimates, medical devices sales numbers, forecast, shares)

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Diversified healthcare company Abbott Laboratories' profit beat analysts' estimates, driven by strong sales in its medical devices business.

Abbott's shares rose 1.7 percent to $56 before the bell on Wednesday.

The company's medical devices unit, Abbott's largest business, continued to reap the benefits of its St. Jude Medical acquisition, with sales rising 6.5 percent to $2.60 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Excluding items, the company reported a profit of 66 cents per share.

Net sales rose to $6.83 billion from $5.30 billion.

Analysts on average expected earnings of 65 cents per share, on revenue of $6.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net earnings rose to $603 million, or 34 cents per share, in the quarter, from a loss of $329 million, or 22 cents per share, a year earlier.

Abbott also forecast full-year adjusted 2017 profit from continuing operations of $2.48-$2.50 per share. It had earlier expected $2.43-$2.53 per share. (Reporting by Manas Mishra and Akankshita Mukhopadhyay in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)