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Abbott profit beats forecast, nutritional products strong

(Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings on Wednesday as strong demand for nutritional products offset lower sales of medical devices and generic prescription drugs.

Despite the earnings beat, Abbott left its full-year profit forecast unchanged at $1.98 to $2.04 per share.

Results beat expectations because of improved profit margins and cost controls, Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen said in a research note.

Sales of nutritional products, including Similac infant formula and Ensure beverages for adults, rose 7.9 percent to $1.7 billion, representing almost a third of Abbott's total revenue. Sales from the company's array of medical diagnostics rose 5.3 percent to $1.14 billion.

Abbott, which in January spun off its branded prescription drugs business into a new company called AbbVie Inc , earned $476 million, or 30 cents per share, from continuing operations in the quarter, up from $411 million, or 26 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, profit was 46 cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 2.5 percent to $5.45 billion, slightly below Wall Street expectations for $5.52 billion. Revenue would have risen 4.2 percent if not for the stronger dollar, which hurts the value of sales in overseas markets.

Medical device sales slipped 1.6 percent to $1.36 billion, but that was an improvement from the almost five 5 percent decline in the first quarter.

Sales of generic drugs, which Abbott calls established products, were off 2.3 percent to $1.22 billion.

Abbott shares were up 20 cents at $35.90 in early New York Stock Exchange trading.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by John Wallace)

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