Abbott stent sales soar in Q4

Strong demand for heart stents and prescription drugs led Abbott to a solid fourth quarter and higher-than-expected earnings. Overall, the devicemaker earned $1.44 billion, or 92 cents per share; that down from $1.54 billion, or 98 cents per share, in Q4 2009. Highlights for the quarter include receiving CE Mark Approval for the first drug eluting Bioresorbable Vascular Scaffold and for Xience Prime for the treatment of critical limb ischemia.

Vascular products sales increased 13.7 percent. Abbott's coronary stents business remained strong in Q4, with with sales jumping to $514 million--19.5 percent higher than in 2009. Additionally, Molecular Diagnostics product sales soared 21.1 percent to $114 million.

It wasn't all good news though. Abbott plans to cut 1,900 workers, or some six percent of its workforce, from its pharmaceutical commercial and manufacturing divisions. The company cited changes in the healthcare industry as the reason for the layoffs.

"Despite a very challenging environment, 2010 was another productive year for Abbott, resulting in strong financial performance," said CEO Miles White. "We also took decisive long-term strategic actions to expand our emerging markets presence and late-stage pipeline to better position Abbott for sustainable long-term growth. We anticipate delivering another year of double-digit ongoing earnings-per-share growth in 2011."

- here's Abbott's earnings release