Strong Pharmaceutical Sales Send Johnson & Johnson Handily Past Wall Street Estimates

Health care conglomerate Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) reported its third-quarter earnings results before the opening bell today, topping Wall Street's expectations and boosting its guidance slightly from its previous forecast.

According to the press release, for the quarter J&J delivered an increase in sales of 3.1% to $17.6 billion while adjusted EPS rose to $1.36, $0.04 higher than the consensus figure and a nearly 9% improvement from the year-ago period.

Leading the charge for J&J was its pharmaceutical division, which demonstrated year-over-year sales growth of 10.8%. This can be attributed to double-digit international sales growth of 14% (excluding negative currency effects) and impressive year-over-year growth in its oncology and immunology divisions, which jumped by 56.2% and 12.4%, respectively. Most notably, advanced prostate cancer drug Zytiga grew sales by 75.1% worldwide while blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease drug Remicade, which accounts for 24% of J&J's total pharmaceutical sales, saw sales increase 6.2%.

On the flip side, negative currency effects and weaker medical device sales kept J&J's results from being truly great. Despite acquiring Synthes for $19.7 billion last year, J&J's medical device and diagnostic segment sales dipped 2% globally, hurt most by its U.S. consumers who chose to hold off on elective procedures. The company's diabetes care and diagnostic segments were the biggest drag, down 11.4% and 10.5%, respectively.

Nonprescription drugs, responsible for most of J&J's roughly four dozen product recalls over the past four years, saw sales jump 18% in the U.S. and 6.4% worldwide as more products returned to stores. Overall, the consumer health business, which also makes dental, wound and skin care items such as the Aveeno and Neutrogena lines, posted a 0.8% sales increase, to $3.61 billion.

Looking forward, J&J slightly boosted its full-year EPS forecast to a range of $5.44-$5.49 from its second-quarter forecast that had called for EPS in the range of $5.40-$5.47.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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