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Johnson & Johnson profits up 33 percent

Johnson & Johnson Tuesday said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 33 percent on strong sales of its prescription drugs and medical devices.
/ Source: Reuters

Johnson & Johnson Tuesday said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 33 percent on strong sales of its prescription drugs and medical devices.

The diversified health-care company, which is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said it earned $1.85 billion, or 62 cents per share in the quarter, compared with $1.38 billion, or 46 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Analysts on average expected the company to earn 56 cents per share, according to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

Sales rose 19.7 percent to $11.3 billion, led by a 25 percent rise in medical devices and diagnostics.

Although the fourth-quarter results beat expectations, Wall Street expects the company’s revenue growth to taper off sharply in coming months as two of J&J’s most profitable products face competition: its blockbuster Duragesic patch for pain and its Cypher stent.

By March, Boston Scientific Corp. is expected to launch its rival Taxus stent. The small metal mesh-like tubes are placed in coronary arteries to keep them open after they have been cleared of fatty plaque.

But unlike traditional stents, Cypher and Taxus are impregnated with drugs to prevent the devices from later becoming clogged with scar tissue.

Duragesic is expected to face competition this summer from a similar patch made by generic drugmaker Mylan Laboratories Inc..