Going From Strong to Stronger in 2021

Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford shared lessons from the pandemic and what's next at J.P. Morgan Healthcare.

Strategy and Strength|Jan.12, 2021

Amidst a challenging 2020, Abbott remained strong and resilient thanks to the company's diversified portfolio of life-changing products.

As 2021 kicks-off, Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford participated in the virtual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and shared what Abbott has learned from the pandemic, the future of COVID-19 testing and the company's growth opportunities in this new year.

"It was an incredibly unique period for us, but I'm proud of the way the company has risen to the challenge," Mr. Ford said. "It's why Abbott was built – for moments like these."

Lessons learned
The pandemic reinforced the value of three key factors that helped highlight the company's resiliency in 2020, Mr. Ford told attendees at the conference:

  • The company's diversified business model — In normal times, Abbott's diverse portfolio maximizes its growth opportunities, but 2020 was the first time this business model was tested by a major global crisis and it proved to be critical to the company's strength. In fact, the floor of Abbott's full-year 2020 EPS guidance, which the company provided in October, is the same as it was last January, which is unique in this environment.
  • The company's culture and people — Thanks to the extraordinary efforts and dedication of Abbott employees, as well as a resilient supply chain, the company was able to continue getting its life-changing technologies to the millions of people around the world who needed them during the pandemic, and it developed and scaled-up a robust portfolio of COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
  • Remote care and digital health solutions — Remote monitoring has long driven many Abbott innovations, from diabetes management to cardiovascular care, and the emerging business trend has only become more important during the pandemic. Mr. Ford said Abbott will continue expanding in this space across its businesses — including in Diabetes Care, Diagnostics and Heart Failure — during 2021 and beyond.

Looking ahead
Demand for Abbott's COVID-19 antigen and molecular tests is expected to remain high throughout 2021, Mr. Ford said. And as vaccinations increase, there likely will be an uptick in demand for Abbott’s antibody tests to assess the strength and duration of people's immune response. Longer term, demand for COVID-19 tests could transition to a steady state, similar to what's seen with the flu.

Beyond COVID-19 testing, Mr. Ford shared there's a lot going on at Abbott as the company continues creating the future of healthcare:

  • Expanding Abbott's sensing technology portfolio – The FreeStyle Libre portfolio had a strong year in 2020, growing to nearly 3 million users,1 thanks to significant pipeline advances. In 2021, Abbott will continue extending its portfolio beyond diabetes through its Libre Sense Glucose Sport Biosensor technology, a mass market biosensor platform, which has a lot of potential applications, including athletes and in other non-diabetes areas.
  • Advancing the product pipeline – Abbott's pipeline is strong with a balance of both transformational and iterative opportunities. To name a few: Abbott is expanding and refreshing its portfolios in Branded Generics Pharmaceuticals and Nutrition; rolling out a suite of testing systems called Alinity in Diagnostics; and preparing to broaden its market in the Cardiovascular space with reimbursement announcements and new product launches.
  • Continuing to strengthen the company's financials – Paying a strong and growing dividend is just one way that Abbott continues to build on its already strong financial position. The company is also investing internally in strategic areas, such as expansion of COVID-19 testing and FreeStyle Libre manufacturing capacity.

"We came into 2020 strong. I think we exited even stronger. I'm excited about the opportunities we have in front of us to not only have short-term returns, but also long-term sustainability for our business," Mr. Ford said.

For more information, listen to a replay of Mr. Ford's full conversation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Please refer to www.freestylelibre.us for the indications and important safety information.


1 Data on File. Abbott Diabetes Care.