(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson overcame its own pessimistic forecast from three months ago and reported quickly growing pharmaceutical sales in the first quarter that could help set the tone for the rest of the drug industry.

  • The company narrowed its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to $8.53 to $8.63 a share, from the $8.50 to $8.65 prediction the company gave at the start of the year.

Key Insights

  • In January, J&J said that its sales growth, excluding currency changes, might only be 0 to 1 percent this year. The New Jersey-based drugmaker beat that mark, with operational growth of 3.9 percent. It’s still getting hurt by foreign exchange rates, however, and reported sales were only up 0.1 percent in the first quarter.
  • The drug segment was J&J’s best business, particularly outside the U.S., and grew 4.1 percent overall to $10.2 billion in revenue. The highlight was psoriasis drug Stelara, sales of which were up 32 percent to $1.4 billion.
  • Medical devices and consumer health products, where J&J is facing thousands of lawsuits over its talc powder and artificial hips, were weaker. Sales in the consumer business were down 2.4 percent from a year prior, while medical devices sales fell 4.6 percent.

Market Reaction

  • J&J shares gained 1.6 percent to $138.72 in New York trading before the market opened.
  • Read more on the results here.
  • Read the company’s news release here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Riley Griffin in New York at rgriffin42@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Drew Armstrong at darmstrong17@bloomberg.net, Cecile Daurat

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.