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Abbott Q1 Diagnostics Revenues More Than Double on COVID-19 Testing

NEW YORK — Abbott announced before the market opened on Tuesday that its first quarter Diagnostics business revenues climbed 120 percent year over year.

For the three months ended March 31, Abbott reported overall Q1 revenues of $10.46 billion, up 35 percent from $7.73 billion in Q1 of 2020 but coming in slightly under analysts' average estimate of $10.69 billion.

On an organic basis, revenues grew 33 percent year over year, the Abbott Park, Illinois-based firm said.

The firm reported its Diagnostics segment revenues grew to $4.01 billion from $1.83 billion a year ago. Within Diagnostics, core laboratory revenues were $1.18 billion, up 20 percent year over year from $989 million. Meanwhile, its molecular diagnostics revenues grew 221 percent to $447 million from $139 million in Q1 2020. Point-of-care revenues were down nearly 7 percent to $129 million from $138 million, and rapid diagnostic revenues increased 303 percent to $2.26 billion from $560 million.

Demand for rapid and laboratory-based SARS-CoV-2 tests drove the diagnostic segment's strong growth, the company said in a statement. COVID-19 testing sales were $2.2 billion for the quarter, with $1.8 billion in sales from Abbott's BinaxNow, Panbio, and ID Now rapid tests. 

Earlier this month, the company received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for use of its BinaxNow COVID-19 Ag Self Test without a prescription. On a conference call to discuss the firm's earning results, Abbott CEO Robert Ford said the company had begun shipping its self-test kits to major retailers, including CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, on Monday. Ford said that he believes there will continue to be a shift from laboratory-based PCR methods for SARS-CoV-2 testing to rapid testing related to surveillance.

CFO Robert Funck added that half of Abbott's COVID-19 testing sales came from international markets. Ford said that Europe was the one area where revenues were softer due to shutdowns related to COVID-19.

Excluding COVID-19 testing-related sales, core laboratory revenues increased 11 percent year over year and molecular diagnostics revenues increased 32 percent. Ford emphasized that the base business was up due to the increases in routine diagnostic testing levels throughout February and March. He also noted that Abbott has strengthened its relationships with hospitals and other institutions because of COVID-19 testing, which has allowed it to place more of its instruments and show the facilities "what we can do."

The firm has also seen significant instrument uptake, Ford said. In 2019, Abbott had 19,000 ID Now instruments in the US. It currently has around 75,000, Ford said. Although those instruments probably won't be as productive as they were at the beginning of the pandemic, Ford noted that the variety of other, more routine tests will allow the installed base to continue to produce for the company.

In other business segments, Abbott's Q1 Nutrition revenues grew 7 percent to $2.04 billion from $1.90 billion; Established Pharmaceuticals revenues increased nearly 3 percent to $1.07 billion from $1 billion; and Medical Devices revenues rose 13 percent at $3.32 billion from $2.90 billion.  

Abbott reported net earnings of $1.79 billion, or $1.00 per share, in Q1 compared to $564 million, or $.31 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted EPS was $1.32, beating analysts' consensus estimate of $1.27.

The firm spent $654 million on R&D in Q1, up 13 percent from $578 million in Q1 2020, and logged $2.78 billion in SG&A expenses, up about 9 percent from $2.55 billion in the prior-year quarter. Ford noted that the company's strong balance sheet provides "a lot of strategic flexibility" and that Abbott is always monitoring and actively looking for merger or acquisition opportunities.

Abbott said it is projecting full-year 2021 EPS from continuing operations of $3.74. Adjusted EPS from continuing operations for the year is anticipated to be at least $5.00.

In Tuesday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Abbott were down nearly 4 percent at $119.73.