A box containing a 5-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories is pictured during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Abbott Laboratories shares seesawed in premarket trading Thursday after it posted a 16% drop in quarterly profit partly due to a tax expense and suspended its full-year forecast, citing uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

The medical device company has launched three coronavirus tests in the United States, including a new test that shows if a person has antibodies against the the virus, indicating that they’ve had it in the past and were either asymptomatic or recovered.  

Even though there is excitement from President Donald Trump and others that Abbott’s tools could be effective in fighting the outbreak, the company is suspending guidance for the year due to “uncertainties regarding the duration and impact of the coronavirus” as sales for some of its other diagnostic tests fall.

“First and foremost, I want to thank our employees, our customers, and our suppliers for their extraordinary efforts to maintain supply of our critically important products to the people who need them, around the world,” Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford said in a press release. “It’s an unprecedented time and our colleagues are rising to it in unprecedented ways.”

The company’s net earnings fell to $564 million, or 31 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $672 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net sales rose 2.5% to $7.73 billion, ahead of the average estimate of $7.34 billion.

On an adjusted basis, the company reported first-quarter earnings of 65 cents per share, higher than the 58 cents analysts polled by Refinitiv expected.

The stock rose by more than 1% after briefly falling half a percent in premarket trading.

Executives are hosting a conference call with Wall Street analysts at 9 a.m. EDT. 

Reuters contributed to this article. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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