Abbott Laboratories saw its results swing back into profit during the fourth quarter, primarily because of the absence of charges related to its acquisition of Kos Pharmaceuticals in 2006 and a double-digit rise in sales.

The company recorded a earnings of $1.2 billion for the period, compared with a loss of $476.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2006, which was hit by extraordinary charges related to its $3.7 billion buy of Kos.

But growth was also driven by a 16% swell in sales to $7.2 billion, with turnover of pharmaceuticals leaping 19% to $4.2 billion.

Notably, the group’s anti-inflammatory Humira (adalimumab) generated revenues of $954 million, a 54% increase on the year-earlier period, while sales of the migraine drug Depakote (divalproex sodium) were up 14% at $461 million, HIV drug Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) jumped 25% to $371 million, and the cholesterol buster TriCor (fenofibrate) climbed 21% to $392 million. Furthermore, the group booked revenues of $179 million for the cholesterol-lowerer Niaspan (niacin), which acquired through its purchase of Kos.

And the picture was just as rosy for the full year, for which Abbott reported earnings of $3.6 billion, compared with $1.7 billion in 2006, and revenues of $25.9 billion, marking growth of 15%.

2007 sales of Humira overshot the $3-billion mark after growing 50% during the year, and Abbott expects the product to hit $4 billion in 2008, given that it recently received approval on both sides of the Atlantic to market the drug for psoriasis, which affects 125 million worldwide.

After Humira, Depakote turned in the strongest sales increase during 2007, leaping 20% to $1.6 billion, followed by Kaletra and Tricor, up 17% to $1.3 billion and 16% to $1.2 billion, respectively.

Strong outlook
“The strength and balance of Abbott's broad mix of businesses helped us to deliver another year of consistent performance," beamed Miles White, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott. "Both our sales and earnings per share increased double digits. Given the leadership positions of our major businesses, and the new products launching over the next year, we expect another year of strong results in 2008," he added.

The group has forecast earnings-per-share $3.20-$3.25 for 2008, and $0.61-$0.63 for the first quarter, both excluding specified items.