Baxter International Inc.'s (BAX) first-quarter earnings rose 3.2% as the medical-products company saw growth across its core segments, driven by strong demand for its hemophilia and immuno-deficiency treatments, as well as its anesthesia products.
Results topped the company's own guidance. For the year, it raised the low end of its earnings outlook by 2 cents to a range of $4.49 to $4.57, while affirming its revenue growth view.
Baxter forecast current-quarter earnings of $1.10 to $1.12 a share, excluding special items, on revenue growth of 3% to 4%, excluding currency impacts. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters recently projected earnings of $1.12 and flat sales growth.
Baxter has seen solid sales and profit growth in recent quarters on the sales of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies for dire problems such as cancer, immune disorders and trauma. Because they treat life-threatening diseases and injuries, many of Baxter's products have been viewed as necessities by doctors and patients who might otherwise try to pare costs in an uncertain economy.
The company recently said it would build a new manufacturing plant in Georgia in efforts to expands its plasma-based treatments.
Still, the company faced a setback earlier this month in the development of an investigational treatment called HyQ. The Food and Drug Administration requested more information on the long-term use of the drug, which is being studied for use by patients with immune-system disorders. The regulatory request could delay the drug's launch in the U.S.
Baxter reported a profit of $588 million, or $1.04 a share, up from $570 million, or 98 cents, a year earlier. Excluding charges tied to in-process research and development, acquisitions and other items, earnings rose to $1.01.
Revenue was $3.34 billion, up 3.2% from a year earlier. Excluding the impact of foreign currency, revenue grew 4%.
Its January projection was earnings of 98 cents to $1 a share on revenue growth of 2%, excluding currency impacts.
Gross margin fell to 50.6% from 51%.
At the medical products segment, which includes Baxter's anesthesia products and renal businesses, sales rose about 2.7%.
Sales in the BioScience unit, which includes plasma-based medical products such as drugs for treating hemophilia and immune disorders, rose about 3.8%.
Shares closed at $54.39 on Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has improved 9.9% so far this year.
-By Kristin Jones; Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2208; firstname.lastname@example.org