It was another one of those quarters for Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) when the top-line growth looks great -- more than 16% year over year -- but when you dive a little further into the earnings, growth wasn't quite that stellar.

Changes in currency contributed 4.7% of that growth, and when you add Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) Consumer Healthcare, which Johnson & Johnson purchased at the end of 2006, to the year-ago quarter, you're left with just 4.6% year-over-year growth for the fourth quarter.

Still, that's not too bad, considering that sales of two major brands, Procrit and Cypher, were both down more than 30% versus the year-ago quarter. Procrit and Amgen's (Nasdaq: AMGN) Aranesp seem to be under a never-ending post-marketing review by the Food and Drug Administration, and Cypher is still being plagued by likely overblown safety data on drug-eluting stents.

Compared with the third quarter, Johnson & Johnson was able to slightly increase Cypher's share of the stent market against Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX). That's important because Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) likely will gain approval for its stent fairly soon, and approval for Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is also likely just around the corner. Johnson & Johnson, an Income Investor pick, is going to need to do everything it can to keep the newcomers from taking market share.

Excluding special items like the previously announced charge for Natrecor, fourth-quarter earnings per share were $0.88, bringing the full-year non-GAAP EPS to $4.15. While it's not likely that the dollar will drop forever, shareholders can revel in J&J's year-over-year EPS growth of 10.4% in 2007 -- at least for now.

Johnson & Johnson expects 2008 earnings per share, excluding special items, to grow 6% to 7% over last year. That's not multibagger growth, but in this market, that might be enough to make it one of the best stocks of 2008.

If you'd like to see more ideas for stocks that pay dividends, grab a 30-day free trial of the Income Investor newsletter and check out all of our past recommendations.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is a pick of the Inside Value newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.