Abbott Laboratories said on Tuesday that quarterly earnings were higher in line with estimates as sales rose 16 per cent to $5.38bn.

Earnings rose to $837.9m, or 53 cents a share, in the first quarter, against $822.9m, or 52 cents a share, in the same period the year before.

Abbott said its earnings guidance for 2005 remained unchanged at $2.47 to $2.53, excluding one–time charges and the effect of new accounting rules to expense stock options. The company also announced earnings–per–share guidance of $0.56 to $0.58 for the second quarter 2005, excluding one–time charges.

Sales of pharmaceuticals products led the rise in revenues, with strong contributions from branded products including Humira, Kaletra, Biaxin and Omnicef, the company said. Of the total sales increase, 2.6 per cent was attributed to favourable exchange rate movements, Abbott said.

Medical Products Group sales increased 10.1 per cent in the first quarter, led by continued double–digit growth in Abbott Diabetes Care.

“Abbott’s businesses continue to perform well, reflecting the strength of our broad–based business model,” said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive. “We achieved double–digit sales growth in both medical products and pharmaceuticals. We are especially pleased with the performance of our global diabetes care business, which is exceeding our expectations, as well as the continued strong demand for our major global pharmaceutical brands.”

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