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J&J sales top forecast, helped by drug for hepatitis C

Bottles of Johnson & Johnson's brand baby oil move through the production line in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Bottles of Johnson & Johnson's brand baby oil move through the production line in Lititz, Pennsylvania.

Johnson & Johnson reported strong quarterly earnings, boosted by surging sales of a new drug for hepatitis C that are expected to evaporate in coming months due to competition from a more potent and convenient combination treatment.

After the earnings announcement, the company's shares rose in premarket trading. (Get the latest quote here.)

The diversified health-care company on Tuesday said it earned $4.75 billion, or $1.66 per share, in the third quarter. That compared with $2.98 billion, or $1.04 per share, in the year-earlier period, when J&J took special charges related to legal expenses and merger-related costs.

Company sales rose 5.1 percent to $18.47 billion, topping the average analyst estimate of $18.38 billion compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company posted third-quarter earnings excluding items of $1.50 per share, up from $1.36 a share in the year-earlier period.

Analysts had expected J&J to report earnings excluding items of $1.44 a share, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

At the end of September, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to buy Alios BioPharma, a biotech company focused on developing existing therapies for viral diseases.

In the wake of the latest Ebola outbreak, Johnson & Johnson is fast-tracking the development of a vaccine regime against the disease and working with partners to deliver immediate aid to address it.

J&J said it now expects full-year earnings, excluding special items, of $5.92 to $5.97 per share. In July, it had previously forecast $5.85 to $5.92 per share.

Reuters contributed to this report.