S&P downgrades Abbott Labs credit rating

NEW YORK -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered Abbott Laboratories Inc.'s credit rating Friday as the company prepares to split in two.

Standard & Poor's lowered its rating to `A+' from `AA' because Abbott Laboratories will have smaller cash flows and less business diversity after separating the pharmaceutical business into a separate company. The new rating is still investment grade, six notches above "junk" status.

On Thursday Moody's Investors Service raised Abbott's outlook to stable from negative, ending a review for a possible downgrade. Moody's maintained an `A1' rating, also six notches above non-investment grade status.

By the end of 2012 Abbott will separate into AbbVie, which will focus on branded drugs, and Abbott Laboratories, which will have a more predictable business built around nutritional formula, generic drugs and heart stents.

Shares of Abbott Laboratories lost 23 cents to $65.55 in afternoon trading.