Abbott faces lagging stent sales in drug-free future

Abbott Laboratories is betting on novel devices like the Absorb to drive profits in 2013--courtesy of Abbott

Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) reported lagging sales for its medical devices business in the fourth quarter of 2012--its last before the AbbVie ($ABBV) mitosis--but the company is counting on a bevy of launches and innovations to turn things around in 2013.

Abbott's vascular revenue slumped 8.1% last quarter to $760 million, dragged down by a 24.6% slide in U.S. stent sales. Abbott attributes the drop to the expected declining royalties from its Promus stent, which it used to supply to Boston Scientific ($BSX), and the company says its Q4 2011 results were propped up by the then-recent launch of Xience Prime.

Still, now that proprietary pharmaceuticals have been shipped out to AbbVie, Abbott will need to squeeze profits out of medical devices, its largest remaining unit.

This month, the company launched a next-generation Xience stent, the Xpedition, a device Abbott says will snap up market share in the drug-eluting world with its reformulated delivery system. The company also kicked off a large-scale U.S. trial for Absorb, a bioresorbable vascular scaffold targeting FDA approval.

In addition to devices, Abbott retains its diagnostics business post-split, and, in the fourth quarter, the company posted 3.8% growth in core lab diagnostics and a 14.7% jump for its up-and-coming point-of-care business. For 2013, Abbott is planning to roll out more assays and companion diagnostics like its Vysis ALK kit, a CE marked test identifies non-small cell lung cancer patients for Pfizer's ($PFE) Xalkori.

Abbott is projecting 2013 earnings per share at between $1.98 and $2.04, exceeding analyst estimates of about $1.95 and demonstrating that the company is optimistic it can succeed in a world without Humira.

- read Abbott's results

Special Report: The top drug-eluting stents