J&J's Listerine
Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Laura Lorenzetti
July 15, 2014

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), the world’s largest maker of healthcare products, beat sales expectations and raised its 2014 forecast by honing in on its high-value pharmaceuticals.

J&J reported sales of $19.5 billion, up 9.1% year-over-year for the second quarter of 2014, surpassing analyst estimates for revenue of $18.98, according to Bloomberg data.

While quarterly sales jumped, adjusted earnings per share grew slower than analysts had anticipated. Net earnings per share were up 13.5% year-over-year to $1.51 a share, just shy of the $1.55 per share average analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The earnings miss is the first since the first quarter of 2006. J&J attributed the suppressed earnings to charges from an increase in litigation and integration costs for its Synthes acquisition.

The drug division continued to post the company’s strong sales gain, jumping 21.1% year-over-year to $8.5 billion during the second quarter. The division surpassed medical devices during the first quarter to become the company’s biggest unit. The surge in pharmaceutical sales obscured the slow growth in the consumer and medical devices and diagnostics sectors, which gained 2.4% and 0.7% respectively.

Quarterly sales increased for drugs like Xarelto for blood clots and Zytiga for prostate cancer, but the standout new drug for J&J is hepatitis C drug Olysio. Anticipated sales of Olysio are responsible for the bump in yearly earnings forecast to $5.85 to $5.92 a share from $5.80 to $5.90 a share, excluding one-time items.

Olysio was approved in November and received a boost when medical societies recommended using the drug in combination with Gilead Sciences’ Sovladi for patients who can’t tolerate interferon, formerly a popular drug used to treat the infection. Sales have reached $831 million so far this year.

J&J is the first major U.S. drug and medical device company to report quarterly earnings and is watched closely to see how the market is doing overall. The strong sales gain, despite the earnings miss, could be good news for pharma company earnings yet to come.

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