Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) said that third-quarter earnings surged, despite a slip in revenue, due to a double-digit decline in expenses.

The health care company posted adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.30 on revenues of $9.77 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.18 on revenues of $9.82 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.28 and $9.94 billion in revenues.

The operating margin widened to 20.4% from 6.1%. Selling, general and administrative expenses dropped 31%, while total operating costs and expenses fell 16%.

But like its larger rival Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), which reported quarterly results on Tuesday, Abbott took a hit from unfavorable currency exchange rates.

The company's chairman and CEO said:

Abbott delivered another quarter of strong results with ongoing earnings per share up more than 10 percent, despite a challenging global economy. ... There were several product launches across pharmaceuticals, vascular and diagnostics, which will contribute to future growth. In addition, we remain on track to separate into two leading health care companies on January 1, 2013.

The company is in the midst of separating into two publicly traded companies -- one a medical-products business and the other a pharmaceutical company to be named AbbVie.

Abbott Labs also narrowed its earnings-per-share guidance for the full-year 2012 to $5.06 to $5.08 from $5.00 to $5.10. The consensus analyst estimate calls for EPS of $5.06, which would be about 8% higher than in the previous year.

Shares are down fractionally in premarket trading to $71.99. The 52-week range is $52.05 to $72.47.


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