Filling baby bottles and treating disease... these are the habits of Abbott. Abbott Laboratories is a top health care products manufacturer. Its nutritional products division makes such well-known brands as Similac infant formula and the Ensure line of nutrition supplements, while its drug division sells branded generic medicines (such as antibiotics and gastroenterology medicines) in international markets. The company also makes diagnostic instruments (including tests and assays), vascular medical devices such as its Xience drug-eluting stents, and the FreeStyle diabetes care line, as well as eye care products. Abbott spun off its non-generic pharmaceutical operations into AbbVie in 2013.
After more than a year of planning, Abbott separated its medical and pharmaceutical operations in January 2013 by distributing shares of the newly public AbbVie to its shareholders. Flatly put, the split separated Abbott's stable business from its riskier operations: While the AbbVie pharma operations accounted for roughly 45% of Abbott's revenues, its R&D work was inherently more expensive and riskier, and a number of its commercial products face patent expiration over the next few years.
The Abbott name stuck with the businesses that previously made up its diversified medical products division, including its nutritional, branded generic pharmaceutical, diagnostic, and vascular businesses (the new operating units). Each unit previously accounted for about 10% to 15% of the company's revenues. The Nutritionals business is the largest operating segment (accounting for 35% of sales) following the AbbVie spinoff. Diagnostic Products comes in second, representing 23% of sales, while the branded generic pharmaceuticals (now called Established Pharmaceutical) and Vascular segments tie for third at 15% each.
Drug-coated stent Xience is one of the company's top products and key to its growth initiatives. The Vascular segment makes other devices for coronary, endovascular, vessel closure, and structural heart procedures. Meanwhile, the Diagnostic segment's products include point-of-care tests, molecular diagnostic products, and information management systems for diagnostic laboratories.
Abbott also makes diabetic testing products through its Abbott Diabetes Care unit, and it makes equipment for cataract and vision correction procedures (including LASIK equipment) through its Abbott Medical Optics subsidiary.
Abbott's products are sold in more than 150 countries. The company earns about 30% of revenues in the domestic market, 40% in emerging markets (especially Brazil, China, India, and Russia), and 30% in non-US developed markets (including Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and Australia).
Sales and Marketing
Abbott conducts distribution operations both from its own distribution centers and from third-party distribution partners. Established pharmaceutical and nutritional customers include health care organizations, wholesalers, pharmacies, retailers, government agencies, and third-party distribution entities. Diagnostic and vascular products are sold to blood banks, hospitals, physicians, plasma protein therapeutic companies, and commercial laboratories.
In the face of multiple challenges, Abbott has been standing strong in the global business market in recent years. However, in 2013 revenue decreased by 45%, from $39 billion to $21.8 billion, and decreased another 7% in 2014 to $20 billion; both years' declines were largely due to the AbbVie spinoff and the loss of the unit's income from the books. Additionally, the group lowered prices in the Vascular segment as a result of pricing pressures in the US and other major markets.
Net income fell 11% to $2.3 billion in 2014 due to higher provisions for taxes as well as an expense of $18.3 million to extinguish debt related to the company's acquisition of CFR Pharmaceuticals that year.
Cash flow from operations increased 11% to $3.7 billion in 2014 as operating results improved and the company paid out lower cash contributions to pension plans. Other factors such as cash generated from income taxes and less cash used in trade accounts payable also contributed to the rise.
Across the years, Abbott has made acquisitions and strategic alliances (in fields including research and marketing) to bolster its offerings and its geographic presence. It focuses on building country-specific portfolios to best meet the needs of each nation. For example, the company has more than 300 active branded generic development projects for emerging markets. In 2014 Abbott spent some $1.3 billion on research to discover and develop new products and processes or improve on existing products and processes. (That figure was down from the $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion it spent in 2013 and 2012, respectively.)
However, its biggest restructuring move was spinning off its branded pharmaceutical operations as AbbVie. AbbVie took the potential rewards of discovering a blockbuster drug but also the high risk and costs of R&D.
In the R&D realm, Abbott is hard at work on developing next-generation Xience products that include Xience nano, a version of the product for use in small vessels, and Xience PRIME, a next-generation version Xience being tested in a range of sizes including small vessel and long lengths. In addition, Abbott has steadily grown its medical device offerings for other therapeutic applications.
Other Vascular pipeline products include Absorb, the first drug eluting bioresorbable vascular scaffold device for the treatment of coronary artery disease; and MitraClip, a device designed to treat mitral regurgitation.
Abbott is also widening its offering of clinical diagnostics tools, including the introduction of laboratory software to boost diagnostic data management capabilities. To boost its point-of-care diagnostics offerings, Abbott announced plans to buy Alere for $5.8 billion in early 2016. Alere makes tests for cancers, cardiovascular disease, and infections such as HIV and malaria, among others. After the acquisition deal was announced, Abbott had concerns about Alere, including its twice-delayed earnings report. It attempted to terminate the merger, but Alere rejected that request; Abbott remains committed to fulfilling its obligations in the deal.
Product development has also led to new nutritional product launches, such as new Ensure Complete shakes and Perfectly Simple (gluten and preservative-free) ZonePerfect protein bars. To further bolster the nutritional business, Abbott built a new manufacturing plant in Ohio, and opened its first nutritional R&D center in India.
Other new or development products include cataract removal system TECNIS-1 Monofocal IOL and TECNIS Multifocal intraocular lenses (which restore vision to people with cataracts), the latter of which is available in the US.
In 2015 Abbott sold its non-US developed markets specialty and branded generics operations to Mylan. The sale included a portfolio of more than 100 pharmaceutical products in markets including Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand; upon closing of the deal, Abbott received a 21% stake in the combined company. The company also sold its animal health business to Zoetis in early 2015.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company struck two smaller deals in 2013: Abbott purchased IDEV Technologies, a developer of radiology and surgery-related peripheral devices, for some $310 million to grow in the peripheral technology market. It also acquired OptiMedica for some $250 million to enter the laser cataract surgery market.
The spree continued in 2014 when the company doubled its operations in Latin America and upped its commitment to fast-growing markets by paying around $3 billion, including debt, for CFR Pharmaceuticals. The Chile-based branded-pharmaceutical maker has manufacturing facilities in Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. Later that year Abbott acquired a controlling stake of Russian pharmaceutical maker Veropharm. The $315 million deal added manufacturing capabilities in Russia and broadened Abbott's presence in that country. At year-end, Abbott bought private medical device company Topera ($250 million), a developer of electrophysiology technologies to detect and treat atrial fibrillation.
In 2015 Abbott bought the rest of Tendyne Holdings that it didn't already own for $225 million; it also agreed to buy Cephea Valve Technologies. Both of those medical device firm acquisitions will boost Abbott's portfolio of mitral valve replacement therapies.
The following year, Abbott announced a major deal to further grow its line of heart-related devices. It is buying St. Jude Medical, which makes such products as heart catheters and defibrillators, in a deal valued at $25 billion. The combination of the two firms will create one of the world's largest makers of cardiovascular devices.