Health and Science

Johnson & Johnson earnings beat expectations despite legal challenges from opioids and talc

Key Points
  • J&J reports third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street's expectations.
  • The results are boosted by higher sales of cancer and other prescription drugs.
  • The earnings and revenue beats come despite multimillion-dollar legal problems from talc and opioids.
Johnson & Johnson posts EPS and revenue beat for third quarter
Johnson & Johnson posts EPS and revenue beat for third quarter

Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations, boosted by higher sales of cancer and other prescription drugs, despite multimillion-dollar legal problems from talc and opioids.

Here's what the company reported compared with Wall Street estimates, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: $2.12 versus $2.01 expected
  • Revenue: $20.73 versus $20.07 billion expected

J&J also raised its full-year guidance and now sees earnings of $8.62 to $8.67 per share, with revenue in the range of $81.8 billion to $82.3 billion. Prior to the report, analysts were expecting full-year earnings guidance of $8.53 to $8.63 a share on revenue of $82.4 billion to $83.2 billion.

Shares of J&J were up 1.8% in premarket trading.

The maker of popular consumer product brands like Tylenol and Aveeno, J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits ranging from claims that its talc-based baby powder causes cancer to allegations that it helped fuel that nationwide opioid epidemic.

J&J in August was ordered by an Oklahoma judge to pay the state $572 million in the first ruling in the U.S. holding a drugmaker accountable for the epidemic. And last week, a Philadelphia jury ordered J&J to pay $8 billion in punitive damages for downplaying risks that its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could promote breast growth in boys.

Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk told CNBC on Tuesday that the company is open to "a reasonable" settlement that would settle the hundreds of opioid lawsuits from state and local municipalities, adding its painkillers represented less than 1% of the overall market.

"Where it makes sense for all stakeholders, we'll look to have a settlement," he said on "Squawk Box."

The company did not report its litigation expenses for the third quarter.

J&J's pharmaceutical business, which accounts for half of the company's revenue, posted revenue of $10.88 billion, better than the $10.41 billion projection compiled by StreetAccount.

The company's consumer unit, which makes beauty products such as Neutrogena, reported revenue of $3.46 billion, in line with Wall Street's expectations. J&J's medical device unit reported revenue of $6.3 billion, slightly better than $6.27 billion analysts were expecting.

"Our third-quarter results represent strong performance, driven by competitive underlying growth in Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, as well as continued optimization in our Consumer business," J&J Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky said in a statement.

Sales J&J's rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade fell 24% year over year. Sales of its multiple myeloma drug Darzalex increased 53.5% year over year to $765 million, while sales of cancer drug Imbruvica increased 30.6% to $921 million. Stelara grew 29.6% in sales to about $1.7 billion.

Despite the lawsuits, J&J's shares were up by about 1% this year as of Monday, and some Wall Street analysts were expecting a relatively uneventful quarter with modest growth in its pharmaceutical and consumer units.