J&J beats the Street for Q3, thanks to surging sales of standout drugs

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) has faced its fair share of patent losses and pricing pressures in the past few years. But the company is riding the tailwinds of recent success, with record-setting sales of its top drugs lifting third-quarter earnings. The sell-off of its Ortho Clinical Diagnostics business helped, too.

J&J revealed sales of $18.5 billion, an increase of 5.1% compared with the same quarter last year. Prescription drugs brought in $8.3 million, a jaw-dropping 18.1% increase over last year's numbers. With that under its belt, J&J decided to boost its full-year earnings forecast to $5.92 to $5.97 per share from $5.85 to $5.92.

J&J's newest products helped drive results, with hepatitis C fighter Olysio delivering $796 million in sales almost one year after hitting the market. The drug now faces competition from Gilead Sciences' ($GILD) newly approved Harvoni, but so far, it has racked up positive numbers; Olysio has already raked in nearly $2 billion in sales this year. Last month, the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) nixed a Olysio-Sovaldi hep C combo, but J&J has asked the FDA for approval to market the cocktail.

Then there's Xarelto, J&J's clot-fighting drug developed with Bayer, which increased sales by 68% from the previous quarter, bringing in $414 million. J&J and Bayer are looking for even more; the duo recently said they would expand Xarelto research as a treatment for acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a potentially lucrative designation.

J&J also lauded blood cancer treatment Imbruvica, diabetes drug Invokana and anti-inflammatory drug Stelara (psoriasis) for boosting pharma sales. While J&J didn't break out numbers for Imbruvica or Invokana, Stelara roped in $543 million in sales for the quarter, a 46.8% jump from last year.

On the devices front, the company is reaping the benefits of the sale of its Ortho Clinical Diagnostics business. J&J reported an after-tax net gain of approximately $1.1 billion from the sale to Carlyle Group, but is still plagued by lawsuits for its DePuy metal hip implants and litigation related to its pelvic mesh implants.

- read J&J's earnings release

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