updated 4/19/2005 10:55:56 AM ET 2005-04-19T14:55:56

Health-care products giant Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday that first-quarter earnings rose 17.4 percent year-over-year, soundly beating Wall Street expectations on an 11 percent jump in sales.

Net income grew to $2.93 billion, or 97 cents per share, from $2.49 billion, or 83 cents per share, a year ago. Sales increased to $12.83 billion from $11.56 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for the company to report earnings of 92 cents per share on sales of $12.51 billion in the latest quarter.

"Our strategic principle of being broadly based continues to serve us well," said William C. Weldon, chairman and CEO. "I'm pleased that the strong performance of each of the franchises in our Medical Devices and Diagnostics segment and the solid results in our Consumer segment were able to add to the more modest increase from our Pharmaceutical business during the quarter."

The company said domestic sales were up 4.9 percent in the quarter, while international sales increased 20.1 percent. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales of $5.8 billion were up 7 percent from last year, due to the strong performance of Remicade, a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, Topamax, an antiepileptic and a treatment for the prevention of migraine headaches, and antipsychotic medication Risperdal.

Strong growth in consumer sales was achieved by McNeil Consumer's over-the-counter adult Tylenol products, McNeil Nutritional's Splenda sweetener and the skin care lines of RoC and Aveeno.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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