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Baxter lifts 2016 adjusted profit forecast after strong quarter

(Adds details, shares)

April 26 (Reuters) - Baxter International Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and lifted its adjusted earnings forecast for 2016.

Baxter sells hospital products including intravenous devices, infusion pumps, surgical equipment and renal products.

Excluding items, the company now expects earnings from continuing operations of $1.59 to $1.67 per share for 2016, versus its prior estimate of $1.46 to $1.54.

Baxter said it expects sales to rise 1 percent for the year on a reported basis. Earlier, the company had forecast a dip of 1 percent.

Income from continuing operations rose to $3.39 billion million, or $6.13 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $134 million, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier.

The latest quarter results included an after-tax net gain of about $3.3 billion related to the spinoff of Baxalta Inc in July 2015.

Excluding special items, Baxter earned 36 cents per share, handily beating the average analyst estimate of 29 cents.

Baxter's net sales dropped about 1 percent to $2.375 billion in the latest quarter, but was roughly in line with the average analyst estimate of $2.35 billion.

The company's shares rose slightly in light premarket trading on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)