Abbott's diabetes devices drive double-digit growth in Q2—sans still-slipping COVID sales

For the second quarter of this year, Abbott saw many of its segments post double-digit increases in year-over-year sales—from pediatric nutrition and established pharmaceuticals to its diabetes care, neuromodulation, structural heart and electrophysiology device-making departments.

Unfortunately for the company, those impressive results were all but completely canceled out by its coronavirus diagnostic sales, which continue to dry up at a rapid rate.

For the quarter, Abbott’s COVID-19 tests brought in just $263 million, according to an earnings report released Thursday. Not only does that mark a drop of nearly 90% compared to the $2.3 billion the diagnostics raked in during the same period last year, but it also dampens the company’s overall sales performance, which came in 11.4% lower than last year.

And while Abbott had braced itself for a major drop-off in COVID testing sales this year, it has so far been steeper than expected. After pruning back its already-modest forecasts last quarter—from the $2 billion it had predicted at the start of the year to $1.5 billion—the company is now expecting to earn just $1.3 billion from the segment for all of 2023, less than a sixth of the size of last year’s $8.4 billion haul.

Simply taking coronavirus diagnostics out of the equation paints a completely different picture of the company’s finances: In that case, according to the earnings report, the devicemaker registered an 11.5% increase in its organic sales.

In contrast to the shrinking COVID outlook, those results have prompted Abbott to increase its forecasts for the COVID-less base business. It’s now planning to see sales in the base business grow by “low double digits,” up from the “high single digits” it had been banking on for the first half of the year.

“We’re achieving strong growth in our underlying base business,” CEO Robert Ford said in the report. “We expect our highly productive pipeline to sustain the momentum we’re building this year and position us well for growth in the future.”

That base business growth—and the company’s overall $10 billion in quarterly sales—were led by Abbott’s medical devices division. It made up $4.3 billion of the total; the next closest was the diagnostics division, which brought in $2.3 billion for the quarter.

Within the medical devices department—which clocked 13.5% year-over-year growth for the period on an as-reported basis—the diabetes care segment reigned supreme. It saw sales increase by nearly 20%, thanks in large part to a bump in sales for the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors. The CGMs alone were responsible for $1.3 billion in sales, a 23% jump from this time last year.

Abbott’s cardiac devices also pulled their weight, with the company noting in the release that several new product launches and expanded indications in the space helped boost the quarter’s sales. Among these were an FDA clearance for the Assert-IQ insertable cardiac monitor, which can be fitted with a battery that’ll last up to six years.

In the final days of the quarter, Abbott also roped in an FDA approval for its Aveir DR dual-chamber leadless pacemaker system, the impacts of which will likely be felt in the company’s third-quarter results.