Johnson & Johnson disappoints

Johnson & Johnson yesterday reported better-than-expected quarterly sales and earnings, helped by sharply lower taxes and a return to growth for its array of medicines, medical devices and consumer products. But the diversified healthcare company, which is traditionally conservative in its outlook, predicted 2010 earnings would rise about five to seven per cent – barely reaching Wall Street projections. The company said fourth-quarter profit fell to $2.2bn (£1.4bn), or 79 cents per share, compared with $2.71bn, or 97 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Morgan Stanley analyst David Lewis called the 2010 forecast “somewhat disappointing”.