The stock price of Abbott has seen a 15% rise year-to-date, as it saw its earnings expand meaningfully over the last few quarters, driven by very high demand for Covid-19 testing.
Abbott now expects the adjusted EPS to be in the range of $5.00 and $5.10 for 2021, compared to its earlier estimates of $4.50. Investors were happy with this announcement, and ABT stock rose 6% in a week (through Oct 21, 2021).
The spread of delta variant aided the overall testing demand in the U.S.. But with a steady rise in vaccination for Covid-19, with over 57% of the U.S. population now being fully vaccinated (through Oct 21), this means that the demand for testing will come down going forward.
For Abbott, it was the Covid-19 tests that resulted in a large 40% rise for its Diagnostics revenue in 2020, and a 73% growth for the nine-month period ending Sep 2021. However, now with several countries working on large scale vaccination programs, it was expected that the demand for Covid-19 testing would come down.
Given that the healthcare institutions were focused on Covid-19 and other emergency patients, several types of elective surgeries were postponed in the first half of 2020, impacting Abbott's medical devices sales. However, the company's Diagnostics business in the U.S. has seen massive sales growth of late, due to Covid-19 testing. Now with economies gradually opening up, Abbott will likely see significant growth in demand for the Medical Devices segment as well, given that the deferred surgeries are now being attended to. On the flip side, though, the sales from Covid-19 testing is expected to come down.
Abbott's Q3 revenues were up a good 23% to $10.9 billion, primarily led by a stellar 48% jump in Diagnostics revenues, due to higher Covid-19 testing. Medical devices sales also saw a 15% growth y-o-y. The adjusted EPS grew 43% from $0.98 in Q3 2020 to $1.40 in Q3 2021.
Abbott in 2019 secured the U.S. FDA approval for its Proclaim XR neuro-stimulation system, which uses low doses of mild electrical pulses to change pain signals traveling from spinal cord to brain. Abbott could see strong sales of the new device, given there are 50 million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic pain.
Also, the U.S. FDA approved Abbott's ARCHITECT STAT High Sensitivity Troponin-I blood test, which aims to identify heart attacks hours earlier than previous methods.
Cephea is known for its technology, in which an artificial valve is delivered through a vein in the leg, without going for open-heart surgery, for the replacement of diseased mitral valves. Abbott first invested in Cephea in 2015, and it recently announced it would acquire Cephea for an undisclosed sum.
The Medical Devices business for Abbott is doing well, primarily led by increased adoption of its HeartMate device. The segment has seen steady growth in the recent past, led by higher electrophysiology, structural heart, and Freestyle Libre sales. Electrophysiology growth is being driven by Confirm RxTM Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM), while structural heart is benefiting from Amplatzer (TM) Occluder and higher sales of MitraClip, which was recently approved by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of heart failure in patients with clinically significant secondary mitral regurgitation.
Below are some key drivers of Abbott's value that present opportunities for upside or downside to the current Trefis price estimate:
Established in 1888, Abbott Labs is a diversified healthcare conglomerate with a global presence. The firm operates in four main segments: Nutritionals, Diagnostic, Vascular, and Generic Pharmaceuticals. It also has a portfolio of diabetes products and medical optics. We treat this as the fifth segment within the firm.
The nutritional segment includes pediatric, adult, healthy living and sports nutrition products such as infant formulas, snack bars, and meal replacement shakes.
The diagnostics segment includes systems and tests used for screening for drugs of abuse, cancer, therapeutic drug monitoring, fertility, physiological diseases, and infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
The medical devices segment includes minimally invasive medical devices for heart diseases, strokes, carotid artery diseases, and other serious vascular conditions.
The generic pharmaceuticals segment includes a broad line of generic drugs that are manufactured worldwide and sold outside the U.S.
Today, more than 50% of Abbott’s sales come from emerging markets. Abbott's management has reiterated its intention to tap these high potential emerging markets. In recent years, Abbott has made significant moves to expand its presence and product portfolio in many of the most populous and fastest-growing countries in the world.
Abbott is a market leader in several product categories and continues to leverage its brand to launch new products. The number of new products launched annually has increased five-fold since 2008 on the back of the company's investments in R&D (as well as acquisitions). Both clinical trials and patent applications have increased 10-fold during the same period.
Since 2011, the company was able to expand operating margins by more than 600 basis points. Abbott is further streamlining its operations to bring more efficiency and cost reductions in its business.
Per capita income levels in many emerging markets are rising rapidly, which provides an immense opportunity for growth in these markets. Also, new studies and increased access to information have led to rising health consciousness in these markets. However, some emerging markets have patent law issues, which could ultimately limit the growth potential.
The average age of the adult population across the developed world is increasing. As the population gets older, demand for adult nutrition products and diagnostics increases. This should positively impact Abbott's revenue.