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: Abbott predicts fewer sales of COVID-19 tests in 2022 but says the business of at-home tests isn’t going away

Abbott Laboratories, the maker of the popular rapid BinaxNow COVID-19 test, made $3.3 billion in revenue from its COVID-19 tests in the first three months of the year, far surpassing the $2.5 billion in COVID-19 tests that the company predicted it would sell over the entirety of 2022.

Abbott’s stock

was up 2.3% in trading on Wednesday after it announced earnings for the first quarter of the year. 

The COVID-19 test sales figures reported by Abbott reflect the shift that occurred in COVID-19 testing culture this winter. As more rapid, at-home tests became available on store shelves and online, some Americans opted to purchase these kinds of tests and avoid the sometimes wait to get a PCR test and the result.

“In the U.S., we saw cases decline pretty significantly in February,” Abbott CEO Robert Ford told investors on Wednesday, according to a FactSet transcript of the earnings call. “But I think we all agree that some of those cases that are being reported aren’t covering all cases because of the use of the at-home testing systems that are currently available. So, I think that’s part of the process that we’re seeing we’re moving more into this kind of endemic state.”

To no surprise then, much of the 31.7% in revenue growth in Abbott’s diagnostics business came from the rapid diagnostics business, which houses BinaxNow and Id Now, two rapid COVID-19 tests. The company’s core laboratory and molecular diagnostics segments both saw a drop in COVID-19 test sales for the quarter. 

The company’s 12 COVID-19 tests made up 27% of its total revenue of $11.9 billion in the first quarter of the year, beating the FactSet consensus of $10.9 billion. It’s not just the U.S. that’s buying up tests; half of sales of COVID-19 tests came from international markets.

Abbott said it doesn’t anticipate a repeat of the first quarter’s sales of its COVID-19 tests the rest of the year. Instead, the company told investors to expect a total of $4.5 billion in sales of COVID-19 tests in 2022, with the majority of that revenue arriving during the first half of the year. 

But Abbott also doesn’t think COVID-19 testing revenue is going to dry up altogether. The company said it plans to update its sales forecast for COVID-19 tests on a quarterly basis this year, and it expects to still be selling COVID-19 tests well into next year. 

“I’d say there will be some COVID business next year,” Ford said. 

Abbot’s stock is down 14.1% this year, while the broader S&P 500

has declined 6.4%.

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