J&J sees sales growth in near-term; raises 2017 profit forecast

Key Points
  • Johnson & Johnson raised its full-year profit forecast and reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings, helped by strong demand for its newer products.
  • J&J also raised its 2017 profit forecast range to $7.12 to $7.22 per share, from $7.00 to $7.15.
  • Shares of the health-care conglomerate were up 2 percent before the bell on Tuesday.
Listerine, a Johnson & Johnson product.
Jodi Gralnick | CNBC

Johnson & Johnson expects sales growth to pick up in the second half of the year on strong
demand for newer, pricey treatments such as its cancer drugs Darzalex and Imbruvica.

J&J, which reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and raised its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday, is banking on newer pharmaceuticals to counter slowing demand for some of its older, best-selling products, including Remicade treatment and diabetes drug Invokana.

J&J's shares were up 1.9 percent at $134.61 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chief Executive Alex Gorsky said that when drugs add months or years to patient lives and make significant differences on health outcomes, as with multiple myeloma treatment Darzalex and leukemia drug Imbruvica, the company has experienced less pricing pressure.

Pharmaceutical companies have come under pressure to cut prices from insurers and the federal government. J&J is one of several companies that has said it will keep annual price increases mostly below 10 percent.

President Donald Trump has said that he will work to bring down drug prices and signed an executive order on the topic, though it is not clear how it will work.

J&J is the first among major pharmaceutical companies to release quarterly results, and the report comes a day after a Republican effort to pass healthcare legislation in the Senate
collapsed. Gorsky is in Washington, D.C., meeting with U.S. and global leaders to discuss health care related issues.

Excluding special items, the maker of everything from drugs, to medical products to consumer products including Band-Aids earned $1.83 per share in the second quarter, beating analysts' estimates by 3 cents.

While sales in J&J's consumer and medical device divisions rose, sales for pharmaceutical products —its largest business— fell marginally to $8.6 billion.

This is the third quarter in a row that J&J's pharmaceutical sales have fallen short of estimates, RBC Capital analysts said in a research note.

"There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel," BMO Capital Markets analyst Joanne Wuensch said, citing Darzalex's expanded label and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
recent nod for J&J's potential blockbuster psoriasis treatment, Tremfya.

J&J reported total sales of $18.84 billion for the second quarter, missing the average analyst estimate of $18.95 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The diversified healthcare company, which completed its $30 billion acquisition of Swiss biotech Actelion last month, raised its 2017 profit forecast to a range of $7.12 to $7.22 per share, from $7.00 to $7.15