Drugmaker AbbVie 3Q profit beats Street estimates, led by anti-inflammatory drug Humira sales

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FILE - This Jan. 24, 2015, file photo, shows the exterior of Abbvie, in Lake Bluff, Ill. AbbVie’s third-quarter earnings more than doubled, beating analyst expectations as sales of the blockbuster anti-inflammatory Humira inflated the drugmaker’s topline despite a hit from foreign exchange rates. The North Chicago, Illinois-based company’s stock started climbing early Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 before markets opened and after it detailed results.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

AbbVie's third-quarter earnings more than doubled in a performance that topped expectations, and the drugmaker's forecast for 2016 and beyond helped send its shares soaring on Friday.

A 12-percent dividend increase also didn't hurt sentiment on Wall Street for the maker of the blockbuster anti-inflammatory Humira.

North Chicago, Illinois-based AbbVie said it expects to average double-digit earnings per share growth through 2020 and that global Humira sales will top $18 billion by then, despite the prospect of competition for the drug.

The company also forecast 2016 adjusted earnings of $4.90 to $5.10 per share.

That range fell largely above the average analyst forecast for $4.93 per share, according to FactSet.

In the third quarter, AbbVie earned $1.24 billion, up from $506 million a year ago.

Adjusted earnings in the most recent quarter totaled $1.13 per share. That beat the average analyst expectation by six cents, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue surged 18 percent to $5.94 billion to top analyst expectations, while total operating expenses stayed flat at $4.06 billion.

AbbVie said Humira sales climbed 12 percent to $3.65 billion during the quarter, and the drug has brought in more than $10 billion so far this year.

Humira is approved to treat more than a dozen conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn's Disease. AbbVie relies on the blockbuster for most of its revenue.

AbbVie also brought in $469 million in the quarter from its new hepatitis C treatment Viekira Pak.

Viekira is one of a series of new treatments for hepatitis C that are considered breakthroughs compared to earlier options, but it faces challenges. Last week the Food and Drug Administration unexpectedly said it would add new warnings to the drug due to reports of life-threatening liver injury in a handful of patients. The agency said it had received 26 reports of liver damage in patients who already had advanced liver disease.

The drugmaker also tightened its 2015 outlook to $4.26 to $4.28 per share from a range of $4.10 to $4.30 that it had forecast in late July. Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $4.24 per share.

AbbVie also said Friday that its board decided to raise its quarterly cash dividend to 57 cents per share from 51 cents.

Its shares jumped 11 percent, or $6.08, to $60.17 in afternoon trading while broader indexes were nearly flat. The stock had fallen 17 percent so far this year as of Thursday, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased 1.5 percent.

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