Net earnings for Abbott Laboratories rose 15% to $480 million, or 61 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $417.3 million, or 52 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Worldwide sales rose 5.9% to $2.7 billion, the Abbott Park, Ill.-based drug and supply company said. Domestic sales grew 3.9% to $1.6 billion. Abbott kept general and administrative expenses to $572.3 million in the first quarter, a 4.4% decline from the year-ago quarter.
Two venture capital firms are forming Itasca Ventures, a Minneapolis-based incubator that will create new healthcare companies in the Midwest. Itasca also will assist existing healthcare companies in their early stages of development by providing equity and management assistance. The company will consider investments in medical device, biotechnology, drug delivery, healthcare service and healthcare information systems companies. Itasca's funding will be provided by IAI Ventures, Minneapolis; the Houston office of Vanguard Venture Partners; and other capital partners, said Scott J. Wolf, M.D., the company's president. He declined to reveal the exact amount of capital to be made available for investments. Wolf is a co-founder of a Cleveland-based biotechnology company and a New York-based venture capital company. Ronald D. Henriksen, Itasca's chief executive officer, previously served as president and CEO of a biotechnology company and is a past director of business development for Eli Lilly & Co.
With the addition of a four-person New York office, Ziegler Securities is expanding its health and long-term-care housing practice. The new office will broaden Ziegler's merger-and-acquisition activity and complement existing investment banking services in the long-term-care housing area, said Don A. Carlson Jr., president and chief executive officer of Ziegler Securities in Chicago. The firm now has 18 bankers in seven offices who serve the health and long-term-care housing sectors, Carlson said. Jim O'Keefe and Larry Anvik, both of Cambridge Partners, are joining as senior vice president and special adviser, respectively. They will focus on healthcare finance and mergers and acquisitions. Frank Healy, formerly of Ocwen Financial, and Doug Korey, who worked for Alex. Brown & Sons, will be vice presidents in charge of long-term-care housing and assisted living.