Shares of Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Report got a boost Wednesday after a top industry analyst lifted his rating to buy on the pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare products giant.

J&J's stock price jumped 2.4% to $153.78 a share after Bank of America analyst Bob Hopkins raised his rating on shares of the group to buy from neutral.

The Bank of America analyst also increased his price target on J&J to $175 a share, according to Bloomberg. That's up from $150 and indicates a 14% premium over its current trading price.

The stock is up 35% from March 23 through Tuesday's close.

Hopkins argued that investors should stick close to tried-and-true names during the coronavirus-driven downturn, with J&J having a "long history of outperforming during difficult times." 

In particular, Johnson &  Johnson outperformed the S&P 500 by 25% during the 2001 downturn and by 28% during the Great Recession in 2008, the Bank of America analyst wrote, according to Bloomberg.

He also cited J&J's strong first-quarter results and recent dividend increase in his assessment, while lauding as a "masterstroke" the New Brunswick, N.J., company's decision to distribute its Covid-19 vaccine - if it is successful - on a not-for-profit basis.

At a time when many other companies are slashing dividend payments to investors or nixing them altogether, J&J recently raised its dividend to $1.01 a share from 95 cents, an increase of 6.3%.

J&J's first-quarter results, reported last week, beat analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. 

The company earned $2.30 a share, blowing past the $2.03 estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.