Johnson & Johnson Firms Things Up

It looks like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) is taking a little of Warren Buffett's advice to buy when others are fearful. With the economy in the dumps, no one's interested in owning aesthetic medical product makers, but the health-care giant came swooping in today and bought Mentor (NYSE: MNT  ) , a manufacturer of breast implants and body contouring equipment, for a little over $1 billion.

The price works out to $31 per share. While that's a 92% premium over Friday's close, Mentor had traded much higher than that less than a year ago. There's certainly plenty of blood in the streets of the aesthetic industry -- rival breast-implant maker Allergan (NYSE: AGN  ) is down more than 40% year to date.

Johnson & Johnson has something that many investors don't have: time and patience. The company can afford to wait for the economy to turn around. It's expecting to take a hit to earnings of $0.03 to $0.05 per share next year, but I imagine the purchase will begin to pay off in 2010. That's a lifetime for most investors.

Not only is Johnson & Johnson making a wise choice to spend its money now, it's also making good choices in where to spend the cash. The drug arena is also filled with beaten-down companies, but rival pharmaceutical companies have a lot of cash, too, which leads to companies still going for premiums -- witness King Pharmaceuticals' (NYSE: KG  ) purchase of Alpharma (NYSE: ALO  ) , and Eli Lilly's (NYSE: LLY  ) pickup of ImClone Systems. Johnson & Johnson is making a good move sticking with expanding the medical device side of the business, and purchasing partners that no one else is likely to bid up, like Omrix Biopharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OMRI  ) .

With a yield above 3% and a highly diversified revenue stream in a fairly recession-proof industry, there's not much to complain about in Johnson & Johnson. And its latest acquisition sure does make it a looker.

Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly are Income Investor recommendations. To see how dividend-paying stocks can offer both secure income and the opportunity for growth, take a free look at this newsletter with a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., loves a punable acquisition. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Omrix is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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