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J&J Earnings Climb but Company Expects a Lackluster Year

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | January 21, 2009
Decoding Wall Street's mixed signals
Johnson & Johnson said fourth-quarter net income climbed 14 percent but that its 2009 outlook would fall below Wall Street's estimates, proving that even healthcare--one of the most non-cyclical sectors in the economy--will be affected by the current recession.

The healthcare behemoth reported net income of $2.71 billion, or 97 cents a share, for last year's fourth quarter, up from $2.37 billion, or 82 cents a share, for the year-earlier period.

Revenues slid 4.9 percent to $15.18 billion. Approximately 4 percent of the decline was due to the stronger dollar, the company said. US sales dropped 6.9 percent for the last quarter of 2008, while international sales slipped 2.7 percent.

For 2009, J&J said it expects earnings of $4.45 a share to $4.55, while Thomson Reuters, an earnings forecaster, had predicted the company would earn $4.61 a share.

J&J said that Thomson's estimate excluded the acquisition of Mentor Corporation, which will dilute earnings by 3 cents to 5 cents, when the merger is finalized this month. Mentor makes breast implants and other cosmetic products.

Drugs and Medical Devices

Sales of pharmaceuticals, the company's largest business, fell 11 percent to $5.7 billion. The company's blockbuster, anti-psychotic drug, Risperdal, lost patent protection in June, hammering drug sales. Risperdal sales dropped 67 percent for the quarter.

Medical device sales slipped 2 percent, to $5.6 billion. Consumer products sales edged up by 1.2 percent, on sales of $3.9 billion, aided by the launch of the popular allergy treatment Zyrtec, as an over-the-counter medicine.

For the year, net income rose 22 percent, to $12.95 billion. Revenue climbed 4.3 percent, to $63.75 billion.