US healthcare major Abbott Laboratories’ saw its profit drop 15% for the third quarter, as numerous charges booked for the period masked a robust increase in revenues from its drugs and medical devices.

The company recorded earnings of $681 million dollars, or $0.44 cents a share, versus $804 million, or $0.51 per share, for the like, year-earlier quarter. However, taking special items out of the equation reveals earnings per share of $0.58, marking a 9% rise on the year-ago period. Total revenues leapt 15% to $5.3 billion, reflecting strong growth in all its divisions, as well as a small helping hand from currency fluctuations. Turnover of diagnostics rose 9.3% to $923 million, as growing demand for diabetes products lifted sales.

Revenues from US pharmaceuticals jumped 14.2% to $1.92 billion, while international sales rose 17.7% to $2.40 billion. The division was driven by a stunning performance by the group’s rheumatoid arthritis drug, Humira (adalimumab), which rocketed 57% to $356 million.

Other drugs boosting results included: the HIV therapy Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir), up 16% to $260 million; the osteoarthritis drug Mobic (meloxicam), sold by the group for Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim, which jumped more than 146% to $310 million as growth of newer drugs such Pfizer Celebrex (celecoxib) were hampered by safety issues; and the cholesterol-lowerer, Tricor (fenofibrate), which climbed 8% to $225 million. On the down side, the thyroid hormone replacement drug, Synthroid (levothyroxine), slid 18% as generic competition began to significantly erode its market share.

Abbott has forecast fourth-quarter earnings of $0.75-$0.77 per share, excluding special items, and has narrowed its 2005 outlook to $2.49-$2.51 a share, equating to predicted growth of 10.5% from 2004. This falls in line with consensus estimates of analysts polled by Thomson First Call, which call for $0.75 a share and $2.49 per share, respectively.