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

By Michael Erman and Divya Grover

By Michael Erman and Divya Grover


(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson <JNJ.N> said it expects sales growth to pick up in the second half of the year on strong demand for newer, pricey treatments such as 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 and diabetes drug Invokana.


J&J's shares were up 1.9 percent at $134.64 in afternoon 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.

The price tag for the first year of treatment of Darzalex is around $140,000. A year's supply of Imbruvica capsules costs around $120,000.

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

President Donald Trump has said that he will work to bring down drug prices.

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

Excluding special items, J&J, which also makes medical products and 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 potentially blockbuster psoriasis treatment, Tremfya.

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

(Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Natalie Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Leslie Adler)

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