Big jumps in sales of prescription drugs and medical devices helped Johnson & Johnson boost its first-quarter profit nearly 7%, blowing past Wall Street forecasts. The healthcare giant raised its financial forecasts for 2021.
The one weak spot in the results J&J reported Tuesday was a small drop in consumer health sales, which saw a surge in 2020’s first quarter, when nervous consumers stocked up on over-the-counter medicines as the coronavirus pandemic set in and lockdowns began.
Meanwhile, the world’s biggest maker of health care products awaits word from regulators on when it can resume the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine, with European Union regulators expected to announce their decision on Tuesday. The one-dose shot, seen as crucial for vaccinating people in remote areas and poor countries, is being scrutinized due to a tiny number of unusual blood clots in people receiving it.
Johnson & Johnson reported first-quarter net income of $6.2 billion, or $2.32 per share, up 6.9% from $5.8 billion, or $2.17 per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings amounted to $6.92 billion, or $2.59 per share. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.31 per share.
The company, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, reported revenue of $22.32 billion, well above the $21.82 billion projected on Wall Street, according to a survey by Zacks expected.
J&J said it now expects full-year earnings in the range of $9.42 to $9.57 per share, up from $9.40 to $9.60 in its January forecast. It anticipates revenue in the range of $90.6 billion to $91.6 billion, up from the January forecast of $90.5 billion to $91.7 billion.
Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said the quarter was led by “the above-market growth of our pharmaceutical business and continued recovery in medical devices,” which has been undergoing portfolio pruning for a couple years.
During the quarter, the company’s COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from regulators in the U.S., the European Union and elsewhere. However, due to reports of dangerous blood clots in fewer than one in a million recipients, J&J last week paused vaccinations in the U.S., delayed the vaccine rollout in Europe and temporarily stopped vaccinating volunteers in ongoing tests of the vaccine.
In addition, quality issues at one of the key manufacturers J&J retained to help make the vaccine forced a halt to production, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigates.
Sales of prescription drugs climbed 9.6%, to $12.2 billion, in the quarter, led by Stelara for psoriasis and other inflammatory disorders, schizophrenia medicine Invega Sustenna, and cancer drugs Darzalex and Imbruvica. J&J reported $100 million in initial sales of its COVID-19 vaccine.
Sales of medical devices and diagnostic products jumped 10.9%, to $6.58 billion. Consumer health sales dipped 2.3%, to $3.54 billion.
Johnson & Johnson shares fell 79 cents to $161.90 in premarket trading, with the broader markets down. Its shares have increased 7% in the last 12 months.
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A portion of this story was generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on JNJ at https://www.zacks.com/ap/JNJ