U.S. Markets open in 1 hr 59 mins

Medical products push Baxter profit above estimate

(Adds details, forecast, background)

Oct 16 (Reuters) - Medical device and drug maker Baxter International Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, as sales in its medical products business continued to grow.

The company, whose profit topped expectations for the fourth straight quarter, cut its 2014 earnings forecast to $4.86-$4.89 per share to exclude gains from its vaccine business that it sold to Pfizer Inc about three months ago.

Baxter had earlier expected to earn $5.10-$5.20 per share, before special items.

The discontinued vaccines franchise business earned 4 cents per share, excluding items, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Net income fell to $468 million, or 86 cents per share, from $544 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.35 per share.

Net sales grew 13 percent to $4.2 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $1.31 per share, excluding items, on revenue of $4.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Baxter said demand remained strong for its hemophilia therapies, including Advate, which has faced competition from Biogen Idec Inc's recently approved hemophilia treatment Eloctate.

Sales in its medical products business - which includes intravenous fluid systems, dialysis, biosurgery and some specialty pharmaceuticals such as anesthesia and nutrition - were up 17 percent to $2.5 billion in the third quarter.

"Robust growth in the U.S. was led by double-digit gains in peritoneal dialysis patients, as well as strong sales of intravenous and nutritional therapies," the company said.

Excluding revenue from Gambro, a Swiss company that Baxter bought last year, medical products sales grew four percent.

The company said plans to spin off its biotechnology operations next year remained on track.

(Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das)