Johnson & Johnson second-quarter sales wilt on strong dollar, weak device sales

Tue Jul 14, 2015 12:38pm EDT
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By Ransdell Pierson

(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reported sharply lower sales in the second quarter, and cited a stronger U.S. dollar, disappointing sales of its medical devices and plunging demand for a hepatitis C drug faced with strong competition.

But the company, whose shares were down 0.8 percent in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, raised its full-year profit forecast, reflecting better-than-expected earnings in the quarter related to divestiture-related gains and lower taxes.

J&J Chief Executive Alex Gorsky acknowledged that sales of medical devices, one of the company's big three product lines, have disappointed in recent quarters, but in a conference call, he urged industry analysts to remain patient.

"We are absolutely committed to accelerating our growth in medical devices through innovation" and research, Gorsky said. "We don't think these are commodity businesses."

J&J said medical device sales fell 12.2 percent in the quarter to $6.36 billion, following the recent sale of the company's Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business, which had generated annual sales of almost $2 billion.

"Investors would like to see the medical device business do better, but the company doesn't have enough products in development that are differentiated" from rival brands, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Glenn Novarro.

Novarro said J&J needs to buy cutting-edge medical devices and prescription drugs, whose revenue will be sorely needed to offset expected competition by 2018 from biosimilar forms of J&J's blockbuster Remicade arthritis drug.

Remicade, already facing cheaper generics in some overseas markets, saw sales fall 7.5 percent to $1.67 billion in the quarter.   Continued...

A first aid kit made by Johnson & Johnson for sale on a store shelf in Westminster, Colorado April 14, 2009.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking