Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated
Johnson & Johnson noted that growth in prescription drug sales was led by the immunology therapy Stelara, as well as the oncology drugs Darzelex, Erleada and Imbruvica. Chief financial officer Joseph Wolk suggested that "this trend will continue," adding "we've got a couple of new launches in the oncology space that we feel really good about."
The company explained that profit in the fourth quarter was hit by litigation expenses of $2.9 billion, a sharp jump from $264 million in the same period of 2019.
Johnson & Johnson expects sales this year of between $90.5 billion and $91.7 billion, representing year-over-year growth in the range of 9.5% to 11%, while earnings per share are forecast to be between $9.40 and $9.60. Analysts estimate annual revenue of $88.6 billion, on earnings of $8.99 per share.
Wolk suggested that the company will likely adjust the guidance when it reports first-quarter financial results in April. "Our outlook is solid, just based on our core business, irrespective of the [COVID-19] vaccine," Wolk said, adding "our guidance doesn't include any distribution of vaccines at this point, and again, we're going to be offering it on a not-for-profit basis, so you're not gonna get the same type of margins on any sales of it."
Johnson & Johnson previously indicated that interim findings from a Phase III study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate Ad26.COV2.S might be available by the end of January, with Wolk saying Tuesday that results would be disclosed by early next week. "We're very confident and on track to meet all of our commitments, which would include 100 million doses to the US by the end of June," he added.
Meanwhile, Wolk indicated that the late-stage data are expected to be "robust," although he cautioned that there might be differences for people tested in places such as South Africa where new variants of the coronavirus have emerged. The study is "going to be very inclusive in terms of having certain ethnicities [such as] Blacks, Hispanics and the elderly," Wolk remarked, adding "because it's so diverse because of the geographic representation that could provide a lot of insights."
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