Johnson & Johnson Investors Sweat, but the Dow Bounces Back

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Stocks have swung higher despite downbeat sentiments on the international front, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has pulled out of the red late in the trading day. As of 2:30 p.m. EST, the blue-chip index has climbed a modest 23 points, bouncing back from losses it experienced through most of the day, and the majority of the Dow Jones Industrials are gaining ground.

Still, Wall Street's fretting over a lack of clear economic direction from China following the conclusion of the country's key Third Plenumpolicy meeting. Investors had expected more clarity on Beijing's plan going forward, and China stocks, along with the Shanghai Composite, have dropped in the wake of the Plenum's conclusion.

Meanwhile, big news from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  ) has left investors pulling back on this health care leader. Let's catch up on what you need to know.

Looking for a settlement
Reports have emerged that Johnson & Johnson is finally looking to put to rest myriad lawsuits over its all-metal hip implants that have harmed patients in the past. The company supposedly will pay out in excess of $4 billion to settle more than 7,500 lawsuits over the ASR metal hip implant, a device from the DePuy business that the company recalled in 2010.

Johnson & Johnson's DePuy acquisition has bolstered its medical-device unit -- and its orthopedics firepower -- considerably, but the rash of lawsuits stemming from the ASR has been a headache. Doctors and the FDA have argued against the use of all-metal hip implants recently, and Johnson & Johnson is hardly the only orthopedics leader dealing with such lawsuits. Rival Stryker (NYSE: SYK  ) , one of the largest orthopedics players in the device industry, has dealt with recalls and suits against its Rejuvenate and ABG II implants recently.

Investors haven't reacted well to the news today: Johnson & Johnson's stock has fallen 0.6% to rank among the Dow's worst laggards. However, in the long term, it's a good sign that Johnson & Johnson is getting these problems out of the way -- even with the costly sum attached to the decision.

Johnson & Johnson's orthopedics unit has grown more than 30% in total revenue through the first nine months of the year thanks to the addition of DePuy, and the business alone outsizes all of Stryker's sales through that time period. Still, Johnson & Johnson has work to do: In the fiscal third quarter, the orthopedics branch -- now facing the end of those acquisition synergies -- actually lost ground in sales, while Stryker grew its own revenue for the quarter.

Still, today's hurdle is a short-term hiccup for a long-term gain. Johnson & Johnson investors shouldn't react rashly to one big payout.

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  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2013, at 10:59 AM, siteobserver wrote:

    JNJ may be faltering and I'm concerned about a temporary slide if there is a market correction in Dec. from this historic top and also, what will be the effect on earnings of these lawsuits including those not yet settled? Would like to see a "lawsuit analysis" article.

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