Despite currency rates hurting sales, Johnson & Johnson beats 2014 profit forecast

MarketsAssociated Press

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson's fourth-quarter profit dropped 28 percent as lower sales overseas, mainly because of unfavorable currency exchange rates, dragged down revenue for its consumer and medical device businesses.

The maker of Tylenol, prescription drugs and joint replacements beat analysts' forecasts for adjusted net income but fell short of predictions for revenue. The company's stock fell $1.09 to $102.95 in premarket trading.

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Still, it posted a healthy 10 percent jump in prescription drug sales, fueled by growth from its new hepatitis C and stroke-preventing drugs, as well as medicines for immune disorders.

Johnson & Johnson also forecast full-year 2015 earnings ranging from $6.12 to $6.27 per share — well above the $5.52 in adjusted earnings per share it generated for all of 2014.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company said Tuesday that net income fell to $2.52 billion, or 89 cents per share, from $3.52 billion, or $1.23 per share, a year earlier, when the results were buoyed by a tax benefit.

Excluding one-time charges for litigation, acquisition-related costs and research acquired in process, adjusted income was $3.61 billion, or $1.27 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $1.25 per share.

Revenue totaled $18.25 billion, down 0.6 percent from $18.36 a year earlier and below analyst expectations of $18.56 billion.

Sales of prescription medicines, the company's biggest segment, jumped to $7.99 billion from $7.3 billion.

But the company said unfavorable currency exchange rates decreased revenue by 7.9 percent. Hardest hit were the other two divisions, with sales of medical devices down 9 percent to $6.65 billion and sales of consumer products such as baby shampoo and Band-Aids slumped 3.9 percent to $3.61 billion.

A strengthening dollar can hurt revenue for companies that do significant business in other countries, because sales in other currencies translate back into fewer dollars.

Medical device sales were also reduced by the sale of the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics business.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lindaj_onpharma