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.