Health-care giant Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ ) second-quarter results this morning provided investors with a near-term overview of what is driving growth at the company. The situation at the industry bellwether also underscores a couple of trends that could indicate a tougher road for a number of key competitors.
J&J operates in three key health-care arenas: pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer products. The consumer segment experienced the highest sales growth of the three. But this was due to last year's acquisition of the consumer health-care business of Motley Fool Inside Value pick Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) . The purchase brought well-known brands such as Listerine, Sudafed, and Rolaids into the J&J fold, and allowed the unit to post a 48.6% top-line second-quarter boost, even though core growth was a more mortal 4.6%.
The pharmaceutical and medical device segments also grew in the mid-single digits. Strong overseas sales trends and a weak U.S. dollar breathed life into reported results, with particular strength seen for arthritis drug Remicade, attention deficit disorder treatment Concerta, and every medical device category except for the Cypher drug-eluted stent franchise.
The stent business remains on trial as doctors and consumers determine if surgery is superior to alternative treatments for heart and artery blockage. The tough results at J&J suggest Boston Scientific's (NYSE: BSX ) stent business will also see challenges when the company releases earnings on Friday. Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT ) is also a player in the space, as is medical device titan Medtronic (NYSE: MDT ) .
Another potential canary in the coal mine relates to J&J's Procrit/Eprex drug for the treatment of anemia. International sales grew a nice 9% for the quarter, but fell 14% here at home, suggesting that archrival Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN ) could continue to see challenges related to sales of its anemia drugs, Aranesp and Epogen. If you recall, the FDA and other health-care professionals are investigating side effects of anemia drug dosing.
International strength, the large consumer product purchase, and impressive product diversity allowed J&J to post an overall quarterly sales increase of 13.2%, and 7.1% improvement in diluted earnings per share when excluding a one-time charge in last year's quarter. Management also stuck to its goal of $4.02-$4.07 in full-year earnings, meaning the stock is trading at a reasonable forward P/E of about 16. That's not bad for a firm considered among the bluest of the iconic Blue Chip companies on the stock market, even if it is seeing a couple of near-term hiccups.
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of J&J, Pfizer, and Amgen but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.