FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 29, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / BRENDAN MCDERMID
FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 29, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / BRENDAN MCDERMID

Bengaluru — Johnson & Johnson raised its full-year sales forecast as demand for its cancer drugs Darzalex and Imbruvica helped it exceed estimates for second-quarter profit on Tuesday.

J&J’s pharmaceuticals unit has cushioned impact of slow growth in its medical device and consumer health units, largely due to its cancer drugs, even as some of its older drugs face competition.

The company raised its 2019 forecast for operational sales, which excludes the impact of currency fluctuations, to $82.4bn-$83.2bn, from a prior $82bn-$82.8bn.

“We expect questions on the maintained earnings-per-share guidance but we point to the continued-to-be-improving strength across its franchises despite pharma headwinds,” said BMO Capital Markets analyst Joanne Wuensch.

J&J reported a 41.8% fall in litigation expense to $409m in the quarter. But the company recorded litigation expense of $832m in six months, compared with $703m.

J&J faces lawsuits that allege drugmakers, including the company, overstated the benefits of opioids while downplaying their addictive risks when marketing their pain treatments.

The company also disclosed in its annual report in February that it had received subpoenas from the US justice department and Securities and Exchange Commission related to baby-powder litigation, but did not give more details.

J&J repeatedly has said its talcum products are safe and that decades of studies have shown them to be asbestos-free and that they do not cause cancer.

In the quarter, pharmaceutical sales rose 1.7% to $10.53bn, above analysts’ estimates of $10.27bn, according to three analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Sales of prostate-cancer treatment Zytiga and blood thinner Xarelto and J&J’s blockbuster arthritis drug Remicade all fell, hurt by competition.

Darzalex and Imbruvica recorded sales of $774m and $831m respectively, and came in ahead of estimates.

The diversified health-care company, the first major US drugmaker to report second-quarter results, said net earnings rose to $5.61bn, or $2.08 a share, from $3.95bn, or $1.45 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.58 a share, beating analysts’ expectations for $2.46 a share, according to Ibes data from Refinitiv.

Sales fell 1.3% to $20.56bn as growth in international markets helped counter falling sales in the US. Analysts were expecting sales of $20.29bn.

Shares of the company were marginally up at $135.6 in trading before the opening bell.

Reuters