Johnson & Johnson profits down but still above forecasts

Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson said its third-quarter earnings were down from last year as sales fell in the US, but the weaker dollar and strong overseas sales helped it beat Wall Street forecasts.

J&J, which has been in business for 125 years this year, made $3.2bn (£2bn) net profit in the third quarter, down from $3.4bn, in the year-earlier period, despite a 6.8 per cent sales increase to $16bn.

Its international sales, of pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare products, jumped 26.4 per cent, though half of that was gained through positive currency conversions.

Strong performers were J&J’s recently-launched medications such as prostate cancer treatment Zytiga; psoriasis treatment Stelara, rheumatoid arthritis drug Simponi and schizophrenia medicine Invega Sustenna.

Excluding special items, J&J earned $1.24 per share. Analysts on average had expected $1.21 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

But its US sales continued to suffer from the suspension of its manufacturing facility at Fort Washington while customers deserted its bacterial infection treatment Levaquin for generic alternatives.

Its shares fell 0.3 per cent in early trading.

"Our solid results this quarter reflect the success of many of our recently launched products," said chief executive William Weldon.

"Our people continue to deliver new products, innovative pipelines and expand our global presence in ways that position us well to drive long-term growth and meet significant unmet medical and customer needs.”