Helped by climbing worldwide pharmaceutical sales, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) on Wednesday revealed a slightly stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, and a restructuring plan intended to better align the drug maker with new changes to the industry.

Shares of Abbott fell more than 2%, however, as the company's outlook fell short of estimates. 

The Abbott Park, Ill-based company posted net earnings of $2.02 billion, or 92 cents a share, up about 10% compared with $1.85 billion, or 98 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding onetime items, the company earned $1.30 a share, narrowly ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.29.

Revenue for the drug and medical device maker was $9.96 billion, up 13.4% from $8.8 billion a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $9.89 billion.

"Despite a very challenging environment, 2010 was another productive year for Abbott, resulting in strong financial performance," said Abbott CEO Miles White.

Earnings were fueled by a 22.5% increase in worldwide pharmaceutical sales and a 13.7% gain in global vascular products sales. U.S. diagnostics climbed 8.5%.

In response to changes in the healthcare industry, Abbott launched a restructuring effort in its     U.S. pharmaceutical business that will streamline commercial and manufacturing operations, while improving efficiencies and reducing costs.

White said the company is anticipating another year of double-digital ongoing earnings-per-share growth in 2011, with full-year earnings in the range of $4.54 to $4.64 a share. The midpoint of the guidance range reflects growth of 10% over 2010. Analysts are expecting a range of $4.54 to $4.60.

GAAP earnings, however, are expected to fall below Wall Street estimates. Abbott anticipates earnings of $3.76 to $3.86 a share, which include restructuring costs.