1. Johnson & Johnson

J&J overall sales flattened in 2020, despite a strong pharma performance and good news in COVID-19 vaccine development.

Johnson & Johnson
2020 revenue: $82.6 billion
2019 revenue: $82.1 billion
Headquarters: New Brunswick, New Jersey

While developing a successful coronavirus vaccine was J&J’s big success story in 2020, the overall effect of the challenging pandemic year was essentially flat sales for the world's largest drug company. Revenue grew by just 0.6% overall to $82.6 billion.

Still, J&J dodged a decline, thanks to a strong performance in its pharma business. The unit's sales grew 8% to $45.6 billion, leading J&J's three business units, which also include consumer healthcare and medical devices.

The pharma boost made up for a middling 1.1% increase in consumer revenue and a drop of 11.6% for its medical devices business. J&J attributed the medical devices' decline to the pandemic; potential patients deferred medical procedures, dragging on the company's surgery, orthopedics and vision businesses. Even though sales in those areas rebounded in the second half of the year, it wasn’t enough to overcome the first-half deficit.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson is 'comfortable' meeting coronavirus vaccine delivery promises, CFO says

Leading pharma sales again was Stelara, J&J’s top-selling drug by sales, pulling in $7.7 billion and jumping by 21%. It was bested in percentage growth, however, by several other meds. Tremfya, for one, gained 33% to $1.35 billion in sales, and Darzalex notched 40% growth to $4.2 billion.

Imbruvica was another bright spot in the pharma portfolio, chalking up a 21% increase on its way to $4.12 billion in sales.

On the decline among J&J pharma meds, Remicade continued to drop—down 14% to $3.75 billion as biosimilar competition continued into a third year. Prostate cancer med Zytiga was also down 11.6% as it also continues to lose ground to cheaper copycats.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson tots up a potential $4B talc bill as tens of thousands of lawsuits pile up

2021 is shaping up to be an especially strong year for J&J with its promise to deliver 1 billion coronavirus vaccine doses—and the revenue that comes with them. 

J&J predicts an $88.8 billion revenue total for 2021, but that doesn't include vaccine sales. Using its U.S. deal's average charge of $10 per shot as an estimate, the vaccine could end up adding a hefty $10 billion to J&J's overall tally for the year.

Still, even as J&J’s coronavirus vaccine windfall almost assuredly hits this year, the company will continue to battle the talc cancer lawsuits it has faced for years—with potentially steep costs.

In a recent annual SEC filing, J&J said the $3.9 billion set aside in 2020 litigation costs was “primarily associated with talc related reserves and certain settlements.” Meanwhile, it still faces 25,000 lawsuits and continues to appeal a $4.7 billion verdict in Missouri.

1. Johnson & Johnson