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J&J Q1 net up 8 percent on sales jump, lower costs

April 15, 2014

Johnson & Johnson’s first-quarter profit rose 8 percent, because of restrained costs and a big jump in prescription drug sales.

The world’s biggest maker of health care products easily beat Wall Street expectations and raised its earnings outlook, driving up its shares to a new high for the year.

The maker of Tylenol, medical devices and prescription drugs said Tuesday that net income was $4.73 billion, or $1.64 per share, up from $3.5 billion, or $1.22 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, income was $4.43 billion, or $1.54 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $1.48.

The company, based in New Brunswick, N.J., said revenue totaled $18.12 billion, up 3.5 percent. Analysts expected $18.04 billion.

Sales of prescription drugs, currently the strongest of J&J’s three business segments, jumped 11 percent to $7.5 billion as sales overseas surged 14 percent.

Meanwhile, sales for medical devices and diagnostics were flat at $7.06 billion, and sales of consumer health products fell 3.2 percent to $3.56 billion.

The consumer products business has been hit by dozens of recalls since 2009 for products including pain relievers Tylenol and Motrin. J&J is having to win back customers who switched to cheaper store brands during that period, and some of the products are still not back on store shelves. Also, the company noted that it divested its sanitary protection business.

“Johnson & Johnson delivered strong first-quarter results driven by successful new product launches and the continued growth of key products,” CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.

In premarket trading, shares rose $2.44, or 2.5 percent, to $99.58, a new 52-week high.

The company raised its profit forecast for 2014 to $5.80 to $5.90 per share. In January, J&J forecast $5.75 to $5.85

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