Biotech and Pharma

Abbott shares gain after JP Morgan upgrades them to overweight

Key Points
  • Abbott shares rise after JPMorgan Chase upgrades the stock to overweight and raises its target price.
  • Abbott's FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring system offers the most room for upside, analyst Michael Weinstein says.
  • It's the first continuous glucose monitoring system on the market that doesn't require patients to prick their finger to draw blood.
An employee walks near an Abbott Laboratories sign at the company's headquarters complex in Abbott Park, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Abbott shares rose 3 percent Tuesday after J.P. Morgan Chase upgraded the stock and raised its price target, citing growth potential from the company's new products.

The firm upgraded Abbott to overweight from neutral and raised its year-end price target to $65 from $60. Shares were at $58.98 in early trading Tuesday.

Abbott could benefit from the U.S. launch of five products: the FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring system, the Alinity family of next-generation core lab systems, the HeartMate 3 left ventricular assist system, the Confirm Rx implantable cardiac monitor, and the MRI-compatible implantable cardioverter-defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators, analyst Michael Weinstein wrote in a note.

FreeStyle Libre offers the most room for upside, Weinstein said. The product is the first continuous glucose monitoring system on the market that doesn't require patients to prick their finger to draw blood.

It's one development in an area that's ripe with change and innovation. Abbott is aggressively pricing and marketing the product, probably to take advantage of its window as the only product of its kind. Rival Dexcom expects to introduce its own sensor that wouldn't require fingerpricks by the end of 2018.

Source: Abbott

JPMorgan Chase expects FreeStyle Libre to do almost $550 million in sales in 2017, on target to generate more than than $1.5 billion by 2022. The analyst forecasts $68 million in sales in 2018, with upside up to about $100 million if Abbott secures either commercial reimbursement, Medicare reimbursement, or labeling for kids earlier than expected.

Overall, JPMorgan Chase anticipates Abbott's organic growth reaching 5.5 to 6 percent this year. Weinstein is forecasting sales of $30.51 billion, above Street expectations of $30.12 billion.

"In our view, it's the new product launches that are not being forecasted correctly, with big discrepancies between our estimates and the Street's in Diabetes (+$93M), Electrophysiology (+$66M), and Heart Failure (+$64M)," Weinstein wrote.

"While we are $60M ahead on Nutritionals, part of that could be due to differences in FX [foreign exchange] as we model reported growth at +4.1% and FX-neutral growth at 2.8%," he wrote. "We model Diabetes, Heart Failure, and Electrophysiology (in aggregate 13% of sales) growing at double-digit CAGRs [compound annual growth rates] through the end of the decade."