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Johnson & Johnson Suspends Vaccine Sales Guidance, Boosts Dividend; Stock Hits Record High

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Updated at 9:59 am EST

Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) – Get Johnson & Johnson Report posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Tuesday but lowered its full-year profit forecast, and suspended its guidance for vaccine sales amid what it called a global surplus and waning demand. 

Johnson & Johnson said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at $2.67 per share, up 3% from the same period last year and 8 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Johnson & Johnson said, rose 45% to $23.43 billion, a figure that just missed analysts’ estimates of a $23.6 billion tally.

Pharmaceutical sales rose 9.3%, but missed forecasts thanks in part to slowing vaccine sales, while medical devise sales rose 8.5% and beat the Street by around $425 million.

The group also increased its quarterly dividend by 6.6%, to $1.13 per share. 

Looking into the 2022 financial year, Johnson & Johnson said it sees adjusted earnings in the region of $10.15 to $10.35 per share, down from its prior forecast of $10.40 to $10.60 per share, with sales in the region of $94.8 to $95.8 billion. That’s down from its previous estimate of $98.9 billion to $100.4 billion, although that tally included vaccine sales.

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 “Our first quarter results demonstrate strong performance across the enterprise, despite macro-economic headwinds. I am incredibly proud of Johnson & Johnson’s 144,000 employees for their relentless passion and Credo-based commitment to delivering transformative healthcare solutions to patients and customers around the world,” said CEO Joaquin Duato. “Looking ahead, I remain confident in the future of Johnson & Johnson as we continue advancing our portfolio and innovative pipeline.”  

Johnson & Johnson shares were marked 4% higher in early Tuesday trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $184.76 each, a move that extends the stock’s year-to-date gain to around 7.7%. The stock hit an all-time high of $185.94 earlier in the session.

Johnson & Johnson continues to face liability risks linked to both its role in the U.S. opioid crisis and the sale of talc-based products that some courts have ruled contained cancer-causing asbestos. 

The group has reached a settlement with a collection of state attorneys general — along with AmerisourceBergen Corp ACB, McKesson Corp MCK and  Cardinal Health — that could involved payments of as much as $26 billion for its part in the opioid epidemic. 

Johnson & Johnson said in late November that it will spin-off its consumer health division — which includes brands such as Band-Aid, Baby Powder and Tylenol and is likely to generate $15 billion in revenues this year — from its pharmaceutical and medical devices division over the next 18 to 24 months.

Moody’s Investors Services said Johnson & Johnson may lose its coveted triple-A credit rating following the spin-off, leaving Microsoft MSFT as the only American company with the highest debt grade.

Liabilities tied to court rulings on tac product liability, which are likely to remain with the consumer health group, would also “represent an overhang to J&J’s otherwise excellent credit quality.”

Johnson & Johnson noted in October that costs linked to defending 40,000 cases linked to allegations that its Baby Powder, and other talc-based products, contained cancer-causing asbestos are close to $1 billion. Another $3.5 billion has been tied to previous verdicts and settlements. 

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