UPDATE 2-J&J forecasts weak annual profit, misses revenue estimates

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday forecast full-year profit largely below expectations, after posting a rare miss on quarterly revenue as sales of some of its major drugs fell short of Wall Street expectations.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Johnson & Johnson is displayed on a screen to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company’s listing at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Shares of the healthcare giant, which were trading at a record high prior to the results, fell about 1.5% to $147 in premarket trading.

J&J’s pharmaceuticals unit, which makes up half of the overall sales and produces blockbuster drugs such as Imbruvica and Stelara, has powered much of the company’s recent growth even as it works to improve the performance of its medical device and consumer health units.

However, intense competition for some off-patent drugs such as prostate cancer drug Zytiga, coupled with pressure on prescription drug prices in the United States, has weighed on revenue at the top-earning unit.

Revenue at the pharma unit, which also makes antidepressant Spravato and plaque psoriasis drug Tremfya, rose 3.5% to $10.55 billion in the fourth quarter, but missed the average estimate of $10.63 billion, according to two analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Sales of psoriasis drug Stelara rose 17.7% to $1.70 billion, missing Credit Suisse’s estimate of $1.79 billion. Cancer drug Imbruvica’s sales rose 24.5% to $875 million, although they missed the brokerage’s estimate of $907 million.

Medical device sales fell to $6.63 billion from $6.67 billion, also missing the average estimate of $6.69 billion according to Refinitiv data.

The company said it expects full-year 2020 adjusted earnings per share in the range $8.95 to $9.10, with the top end of the range meeting analysts’ average estimate.

Litigation expenses fell to $264 million in the fourth quarter, from $1.29 billion a year ago.

J&J’s net earnings rose to $4.01 billion, or $1.50 per share, in the quarter, from $3.04 billion, or $1.12 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it earned $1.88 per share, beating the average analyst estimate by a cent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total sales rose 1.7% to $20.75 billion, below the average estimate of $20.80 billion. That was the company’s first revenue miss in at least eight quarters.

Reporting by Manas Mishra and Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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