FILE - This Oct. 10, 2008, file photo illustration shows Johnson & Johnson products, in Philadelphia. Johnson & Johnson reports earnings Tuesday, July 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Johnson & Johnson beats revenue, profit projections for 2Q

July 17, 2018 - 10:10 am

Fueled by a 20 percent sales jump in its prescription drugs business, Johnson & Johnson posted a 3 percent increase in second-quarter profit.

Still, the world's biggest maker of health care products trimmed its forecast for 2018.

J&J's prescription medicine business, which had lagged its medical device business until a couple years ago, accounted for half its $20.83 billion in total revenue.

That business has prospered from wider use of its cancer and immune disorder medicines and its 2017 acquisition of Swiss drugmaker Actelion.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company on Tuesday reported net income of $3.95 billion, or $1.45 per share, up from $3.83 billion, or $1.40 per share, a year ago.

Adjusted for one-time items, earnings came to $2.10 per share, or 4 cents better than analysts had expected.

The $20.83 billion in revenue topped analyst expectations for $20.21 billion.

"Overall, this was a solid quarter for the company, driven yet again by strong performance in the pharmaceutical segment, which grew 11 percent year-over-year," Edward Jones analyst Ashtyn Evans wrote.

The company last week suffered a $4.69 billion jury verdict in St. Louis from a lawsuit alleging J&J's iconic Johnson's baby powder contained asbestos and caused their ovarian cancer. J&J plans to appeal and is fighting about 9,100 lawsuits alleging talc in its baby powder and Shower to Shower caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, despite significant evidence that talc, an inert element, is safe.

Chief Executive Alex Gorsky said Tuesday that the baby powder doesn't contain asbestos, and noted every jury verdict from St. Louis that it's appealed has been overturned.

Prescription drug revenue totaled $10.35 billion, while medical devices and diagnostics products brought in $6.97 billion, up 3.7 percent. That segment plans 15 to 20 product launches this year.

Sales of the immune disorder drug Stelara, for treating psoriasis and Crohn's disease, jumped 36 percent, to $1.34 billion. That made it J&J's top earner, toppling longtime best seller Remicade.

J&J said its prescription drug sales have been growing faster than the overall market since the second half of 2017, but that growth will slow this year, partly due to generic competition.

Sales of consumer health products such as Tyleonol, Band-Aids and Neutrogena skin care products edged up 0.7 percent, to $3.5 billion.

Erik Gordon, a professor and pharmaceuticals analyst at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, said the company "is clicking on drug and devices sales and still suffering on consumer sales. The operating results look good with overall results hurt by an unexpectedly strong dollar."

Johnson & Johnson now expects full-year earnings between $8.07 and $8.17 per share, down from its April forecast for $8 to $8.20 per share, and revenue between $80.5 billion and $81.3 billion, down from its prior forecast of $81 billion to $81.8 billion.

Analysts have projected $81.2 billion in sales and per-share earnings of $8.10.

Shares rose 4 percent in early trading.

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