Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Get Report) is slated to report third-quarter earnings on October 18, and investors and analysts will be looking to see how the company's pharma division is doing, as well as checking in on the status of Remicade, the company's blockbuster immunosuppressant drug.
"We could see JNJ report Q3 results slightly ahead of consensus, which is based on our analysis that U.S. Pharma performance may be ahead of our expectations, partly offset by slightly reduced foreign exchange (FX) tailwind vs. the Q2 report," Wells Fargo analyst Larry Biegelsen wrote in a note to clients. Biegelsen rates J&J''s shares "outperform" with a price-target range between $133 and $135.
Chief among investor concerns, J&J is continuing its transition to focusing on consumer products, like Baby Care and Skin Care, as well as immunology with Remicade, which is its drug for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.
"Within immunology, we see upside for Remicade as U.S. TRx (Total prescriptions) grew +9.6%, with consensus expecting only total U.S. Remicade growth of just +3.9% vs. our +7.1%, which should also be helped by Simponi/Aria and Stelara (excluding potential GTN adjustments)," Barclays Capital analyst Geoff Meacham wrote in a research note. Meacham has an "overweight" rating on J&J with a $130 price target.
"J&J has very strong free cash flow and earnings growth is strong, but not as strong as it's been," said Eric Ervin, CEO of Reality Shares, which has $50 million in assets under management. Ervin, whose Reality Shares firm rates J&J a DIVCON 4 (on a scale of one to five, with five being the best) noted J&J is "a great business, it's just a mature business, growing at the speed of the market."
For the past eight quarters, J&J has managed to top analysts' expectations, but the stock has only gone up half of that time. "It's not a question of if they beat, but by how much they beat and what they say on the call," Ervin added.
Analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance expect the company to earn $1.65 a share on $17.71 billion in revenue.
Over the past year, shares of the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company have gained 24.8%, significantly outperforming the 7.2% gain in the S&P 500.
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Investors will be keen to hear about the company's medical device unit, which has had its ups and downs in recent months.
"For Med Device, we forecast revenue at $6.1B, +3.5% organically and don't vary materially on most product lines as utilization trends have been mostly stable or improving slightly relative to a year ago," Meacham penned in a note to clients.
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Biegelsen wrote he expects U.S. pharmaceutical sales to be slightly higher than consensus. "We estimate Q3 U.S. Pharma sales upside of $130MM, partly offset by reduced FX tailwind of $15-$20MM," the analyst wrote to investors.
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In addition to the company's consumer and immunology businesses, Ervin noted that investors will want to hear about currencies and global growth trends.
"One thing that's been hot on everyone's mind is currency," Ervin said. "A lot of people may be focused on currency and their global trends, to particularly see if the consumer is weakening. J&J has had growth, but it's been weak growth, so investors will want to see if that's changed."