Abbott Laboratories has posted flat earnings for the third-quarter which has taken some of the shine off a stellar performance from the firm’s anti-inflammatory Humira.

Net income only sneaked up 0.2% to $717 million, or $0.46 per share, hit by acquisition costs, a $111 million charge related to an undisclosed contract termination and other litigation and a $79 million charge relating to the failed $8.13 billion sale of some diagnostic assets to General Electric, as well as a much-increased tax bill compared to the like, year-earlier period.

Worldwide sales climbed 14.4% to $6.38 billion, while pharmaceutical sales made up $3.53 billion of the total, up 19.6%. Easily the most impressive performance came from the arthritis and Crohn’s disease medicine Humira (adalimumab), which enjoyed a sales increase of 48.5% to $803 million, some way ahead of analysts' expectations of $770 million. Abbott has said that revenues from the treatment should reach $3 billion this year and that figure looks all set to rise if the company gets the necessary approvals next year to market Humira for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

As for Abbott’s other products, the migraine drug Depakote (divalproex sodium) increased 13.1% to $383 million, while the HIV medication Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) was up 15.2% to $338 million. TriCor (fenofibrate) for cholesterol lowering rose 12.8% to $300 million, while Niaspan (niacin), another cholesterol-lowerer which Abbott acquired in its purchase of Kos Pharmaceuticals last year, contributed $167 million to the coffers.

Less good news came from the performance of the antibiotic Biaxin (clarithromycin), which saw sales fell 5.2% to $131 million. The anaesthetic Ultane/Sevorane (sevoflurane) slipped 1% to $188 million and the hypothyroid medication Synthroid (levothyroxine) sank 12.6% to $130 million.

Overall, chief executive Miles White seemed pleased and said that Abbott's strong performance “was again balanced across our major broad-based businesses", adding that this momentum will continue in the fourth quarter and into 2008, “when the strength of our diversity will drive an accelerating rate of earnings-per-share growth compared to 2007.”