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AbbVie (ABBV - Analyst Report) recently confirmed its sales figures for 2012 and provided guidance for 2013 as an independent company. AbbVie came into existence earlier this year following its separation from Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Analyst Report).

AbbVie said that excluding the negative impact of currency fluctuation (3%), pharmaceutical segment revenues grew more than 8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 despite the genericization of TriCor. Results were driven by Humira, AndroGel and Synthroid.

The company also provided first-time guidance for 2013. AbbVie expects to earn $3.03 - $3.13 per share in 2013 on total revenues of more than $18 billion. Currency movement is expected to negatively impact revenues by about 1%. Humira, which posted sales of $9.3 billion in 2012, up 16.7%, is expected to deliver low double-digit growth in 2013.

AbbVie expects to spend 14.5% of sales on R&D. SG&A spend is expected to be about 26% of sales.

First quarter 2013 earnings are expected in the range of 64 – 66 cents.  Sales are slated to grow in low single digits despite the negative impact of generic competition for the lipid franchise.

We believe AbbVie is poised for strong growth. Humira should continue driving sales thanks to factors like additional indications, increasing penetration, geographic expansion, and share gains. New indications could boost peak sales potential for Humira by another $1.5 billion.

The pipeline also represents significant potential and AbbVie is targeting 15 regulatory approvals between 2013 and 2017. The company’s late-stage pipeline includes 11 compounds or indications in phase III development targeting therapeutic areas like hepatitis C, immunology, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis and Parkinson's disease.

2013 and 2014 represent a transition period for the company which is facing generic competition for its lipid franchise – TriCor, TriLipix and Niaspan. The company expects 2013 sales from this franchise to decline by roughly $1.2 billion to less than $1 billion.

AbbVie currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). While we are positive on the company’s strong late-stage pipeline, dividend yield and growth strategy, we remain concerned about AbbVie’s dependence on Humira. We believe the company will continue pursuing in-licensing deals and collaborations to boost its pipeline.

Large-cap companies that currently look more attractive include Sanofi (SNY - Analyst Report) and Novo Nordisk (NVO - Analyst Report). Both companies carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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