AbbVie Says Tax Overhaul Will Slash 2018 Effective Tax Rate to 9% -- 2nd Update

By Peter Loftus Features Dow Jones Newswires

AbbVie Inc. said Friday the new U.S. tax overhaul will slash its effective tax rate to 9% for 2018 and yield savings the drugmaker said it would use to return cash to shareholders and boost employee compensation.

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Shares of AbbVie jumped 13.8%, to $123.21, adding about $24 billion to the market value of the North Chicago, Ill., maker of the multibillion-dollar arthritis drug Humira.

The 9% effective tax rate AbbVie expects for 2018 is down from about 18.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017. AbbVie Chief Financial Officer Bill Chase said the new tax law allows "more efficient" repatriation of future foreign earnings.

JPMorgan analyst Christopher Schott said AbbVie has relied on repatriating foreign earnings to help fund its stock dividend, and is now able to repatriate that money at a lower tax than under the old law.

"The company said the tax rate should inch back up to about 13% over the next five years because of increased U.S. income and investments.

Over the next five years, AbbVie plans to invest about $2.5 billion in capital projects in the U.S., and is evaluating additional expansion of its U.S. facilities, the company said.

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Also, in 2018, the company plans to make a one-time charitable contribution of approximately $350 million to certain not-for-profit organizations based in the U.S., including rebuilding efforts for storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, Chief Executive Richard Gonzalez told analyst on a conference call.

AbbVie also said it plans to accelerate pension funding by $750 million, and enhance nonexecutive employee compensation.

Shareholders won't be left out. The company said it is working on a plan to accelerate the growth of its stock dividend and repurchase more of its shares.

AbbVie reported improved fourth-quarter financial results and substantially boosted its expectation of full-year 2018 earnings to reflect the impact of the new U.S. tax law, which lowered the top corporate rate to 21% from 35%, and stronger operating performance. The company now expects full-year earnings, excluding certain items, of $7.33 to $7.43 a share, versus its prior view of $6.37 to $6.57 per share.

Write to Peter Loftus at peter.loftus@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 26, 2018 17:21 ET (22:21 GMT)