Johnson & Johnson (J&J) boosted its profit forecast for the year after posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings on stronger prescription sales of its psoriasis treatment Stelara and cancer drug Imbruvica. Shares of the company rose over 2%.
J&J shares have been under pressure this year, widely underperforming the S&P healthcare sector in the US, as the company faces more than 13,000 lawsuits tied to antipsychotic drug Risperdal as well as a range of lawsuits involving its baby powder, opioids, medical devices, and other products.
J&J did not report litigation expenses for the third quarter and its legal costs over the nine-month period remained at $832m (€753m), as was reported at the end of the second quarter.
JP Morgan analyst Chris Schott said litigation risk remains a clear overhang on the shares, but added that the results will likely be well received and continue to believe that analysts’ estimates remain too low.
J&J’s pharmaceuticals business has in recent years cushioned the impact of relatively slow growth in its other medical device and consumer units even as some of the company’s older drugs face competition from cheaper versions.
Much of the growth has come from newer treatments such as Stelara, which reported a near 30% growth in sales to about $1.7bn. Sales from cancer treatment Imbruvica rose about 31% to $921m in the quarter.
The company said it now expects full-year adjusted earnings per share in the range $8.62 to $8.67, from its prior forecast of $8.53 to $8.63. Net earnings rose to $4.83bn in the quarter, up from $3.93bn a year earlier. Total sales rose 1.9% to $20.73bn, while its pharmaceutical unit sales rose 5.1% to $10.88bn.