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Prescription drugs boost drives J&J forecasts higher, shares rise

Stock Markets Oct 15, 2019 08:25AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Johnson & Johnson is displayed on a screen to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company's listing at the NYSE in New York
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(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson (N:JNJ) boosted its profit forecast for the year on Tuesday after posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings on stronger prescription sales of its psoriasis treatment Stelara and cancer drug Imbruvica.

Shares of the company, which makes products ranging from prescription drugs to consumer goods such as Band-Aids, rose 2% to $133.48 in premarket trading.

J&J shares have been under pressure this year, widely underperforming the S&P healthcare sector (SPXHC), as the company faces more than 13,000 lawsuits tied to antipsychotic drug Risperdal as well as a range of lawsuits involving its baby powder, opioids, medical devices and other products.

J&J did not report litigation expenses for the third quarter and its legal costs over the nine-month period remained at $832 million, as was reported at the end of the second quarter.

JP Morgan analyst Chris Schott said litigation risk remains a clear overhang on the shares, but added that the results will likely be well received and continue to believe that analysts' estimates remain too low.

J&J's pharmaceuticals business has in recent years cushioned the impact of relatively slow growth in its other medical device and consumer units even as some of the company's older drugs face competition from cheaper versions.

Much of the growth has come from newer treatments such as Stelara, which reported a near 30% growth in sales to about $1.7 billion. Sales from cancer treatment Imbruvica rose about 31% to $921 million in the quarter.

The company on Tuesday said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share in the range $8.62 to $8.67, from its prior forecast of $8.53 to $8.63. Analysts were expecting $8.60 per share.

Net earnings rose to $4.83 billion, or $1.81 per share, in the quarter, from $3.93 billion, or $1.44 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.12 per share, beating analysts' expectations of $2.01 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total sales rose 1.9% to $20.73 billion, above the average analysts' estimate of $20.07 billion.

Pharmaceutical unit sales rose 5.1% to $10.88 billion, above analysts estimates of $10.28 billion, according to a Refinitiv poll of three analysts.

Prescription drugs boost drives J&J forecasts higher, shares rise

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