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Will Currency Woes Hurt Abbott Labs' (ABT) Q1 Earnings?

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Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Free Report) is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 20.

Abbott Labs has an impressive track record with the company having surpassed estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, with an average earnings surprise of 4.86%. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors Driving the Quarter

Abbott Labs expects to face challenging conditions in Venezuela, which has been a historically good market for the company, due to high inflation, increasing price and margin controls, regulations on imports, and slowing demand. This, in turn, will hurt sales growth rate by 3% in the first quarter.

Strengthening of the dollar against almost every currency has significantly clouded the outlook for 2016. Unfavorable movement in foreign currency rates is, thus, expected to impact 2016 results adversely, particularly in those emerging markets where currencies have been devalued. In fact, this impact is estimated to be higher in 2016 than the 2015 level due to the combined blow of currency movement and certain timing effects. Consequently, sales in 2016 will suffer about 4% due to currency movements. In particular, first-quarter sales are expected to decline in the low single digits, reflecting a 6% negative currency impact. Earnings per share are projected around 38–40 cents.

On a segmental basis, nutrition sales are estimated to increase in the low-to-mid single digits driven by market expansion in China, Latin America and other priority markets. Sales from the diagnostic unit should grow in the mid single digits. On the other hand, growth rates have slowed down considerably in emerging markets in recent times, thereby impacting demand. Vascular sales are projected to witness a single-digit decline on an operational basis in first-quarter 2016 and the full year. Nevertheless, market uptake is expected to be strong for MitraClip. Abbott Labs expects to launch its fully dissolving stent, Absorb, in the U.S. market. Diabetes care sales are estimated to increase in mid single digits. The company recently expanded its capacities to meet the strong demand for FreeStyle Libre in Europe. It is also looking forward to launch this technology in a number of new markets in 2016, targeting the multibillion dollar global blood glucose monitoring market.

Meanwhile, the established pharmaceuticals division (EPD) is expected to increase in mid single digits, reflecting double-digit operational growth excluding the impact of Venezuela.

What Our Model Indicates

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Abbott Labs is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) to likely post an earnings beat. However, that is not the case here, as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is 0.00%. This is because both the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate are pegged at 39 cents.

Zacks Rank: Abbott Labs currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Though this increases the predictive power of the ESP, the company’s 0.00% ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

Note that we caution against stocks with Zacks Rank #4 and #5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks That Warrant a Look

Here are some health care stocks that you may want to consider, as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +1.22% and a Zacks Rank #2. The company is scheduled to report first-quarter results on Apr 19.

The Earnings ESP for Sanofi (SNY - Free Report) is +4.17% and it carries a Zacks Rank #2. The company is scheduled to release results on Apr 29.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +1.65% and a Zacks Rank #1. The company will report results on Apr 28.

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