updated 10/17/2006 10:50:22 AM ET 2006-10-17T14:50:22

Johnson & Johnson Tuesday said its third-quarter profit rose almost 9 percent on better-than-expected sales growth for its array of drugs, medical devices and consumer products.

J&J said it earned $2.76 billion, or 94 cents a share, in the quarter. That compared with $2.54 billion, or 85 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts, on average, expected the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company to earn 93 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Quarterly company revenue rose almost 8 percent to $13.29 billion, well above the $13.06 billion Reuters Estimates forecast.

“J&J beat our sales forecasts in all geographies and in all three major business units, with the worldwide pharmaceutical business providing the most upside,” JP Morgan analyst Mike Weinstein said in a research note.

Global sales of prescription drugs rose 7.8 percent to $5.9 billion, fueled by strong demand for schizophrenia drug Risperdal, rheumatoid arthritis treatment Remicade and Topamax for epilepsy.

Remicade sales soared 24 percent, to $776 million, despite strong competition from newer treatments such as Abbott Laboratories Inc.’s Humira.

Global Topamax sales also rose 24 percent, to $533 million, while combined sales of Risperdal and the injectable long-acting Consta version of the medicine rose 16 percent to $1.07 billion. Sales of Concerta, used to treat attention deficit disorder, jumped 30 percent to $220 million

But combined sales of anemia drugs Procrit and Eprex slumped 6 percent to $798 million, hurt by competition from newer products.

Sales of medical devices rose 7.1 percent, to $5 billion, with strongest growth in overseas markets, led by minimally invasive surgical products, contact lenses and orthopedic devices.

Consumer product sales rose 10.1 percent to $2.5 billion, helped by demand for the company’s recently acquired skin care products.

To help shore up future earnings, J&J in late June agreed to pay $16.6 billion for Pfizer Inc.’s  consumer health care products, including Listerine mouthwash, Sudafed decongestant and Nicorette smoking-cessation products. The sale is expected to close by the end of the year.

The Pfizer brands will be folded into J&J’s array of household names such as Band-Aids, Tylenol and Neutrogena skin products.

J&J raised its 2006 profit forecast to $3.72 to $3.74 per share. The new outlook — up from the prior forecast of $3.65 to $3.72 per share — reflects expected profit gains of roughly 10 percent over last year.

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