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J&J 2Q profit rises 13 per cent to $4.33B, beats forecast on sales growth for new medicines

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Strong sales of several new drugs, particularly its hot new hepatitis medicine, lifted Johnson & Johnson's second-quarter profit by 13 per cent, topping analysts' expectations.

The world's biggest maker of health care products raised its 2014 profit forecast for the second time since January, again up by a nickel to a new range of $5.85 to $5.92 per share, excluding one-time items.

Still, J&J shares fell in midday trading after company officials cited two drags on second-half revenue: the June 30 sale of its Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics business for about $4 billion, and expected new competition for Olysio, J&J's new treatment for chronic hepatitis C. In midday trading, shares were down $1.71, or 1.6 per cent, at $103.67.

J&J on Tuesday reported earnings increased to $4.33 billion, or $1.51 per share, from $3.83 billion, or $1.33 per share, a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring litigation and other costs, came to $1.66 per share. Analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research expected $1.54 per share, on average.

The maker of Band-Aids, medical devices and biologic drugs said revenue rose 9.1 per cent to $19.5 billion from $17.88 billion a year ago. Analysts expected $18.85 billion.

The company "seems to have turned the corner on its string of unpleasant surprises, and is delivering mostly positive surprises," said Erik Gordon, a professor and analyst at University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company said prescription drug sales rose 21 per cent to $8.51 billion. That was led by Olysio, at $831 million in the quarter, as well as Xarelto for preventing heart attacks and strokes ($361 million) and Zytiga for prostate cancer ($562 million). J&J's two newer drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system disorders, Simponi and Stelara, both grew by more than 40 per cent, lifting the immunology franchise to $2.63 billion in total sales.

J&J CEO Alex Gorsky said J&J plans to apply for approval of 10 new drugs, plus 15 additional uses for existing medicines, through 2017.

The strong performance of prescription drugs recently has helped it regain the lead over J&J's device business and offset the lagging consumer segment, which is still recovering from dozens of product recalls since 2009.

Most of J&J's nonprescription medicines, including Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl, are now back in stores, boosting their total sales nearly 8 per cent to $1 billion. Consumer product sales increased 2.4 per cent to a total of $3.74 billion.

Medical device sales edged up 0.7 per cent to $7.24 billion.

Johnson & Johnson shares have increased $13.27, or 15 per cent, in the last 12 months.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson at www.twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma

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