Recall-Plagued Johnson & Johnson Posts 12% Earnings Drop

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), hammered by numerous recalls that have kept some popular nonprescription medicines and other products off the market, posted a 12 percent profit decline and a 5.5 percent drop in revenue for the fourth quarter.

The adjusted earnings from the maker of Tylenol, medical devices and biologic drugs matched Wall Street estimates but revenue fell short and its earnings estimate for this year was below current forecasts.

Its shares fell 97 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $61.25 in pre-market trading.

The company said Tuesday that net income was $1.94 billion, or 70 cents per share. That was down from $2.21 billion, or 79 cents per share, in 2009's fourth quarter.

Excluding one-time items, net income would have been $1.03 per share, just matching analysts' expectations. The items included a charge of $922 million for litigation settlements and product liability expenses.

The company's revenue fell to $15.64 billiion from $16.6 billion a year ago and was below the $16 billion expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Sales in the 2009 fourth quarter totaled $16.55 billion.

Sales of consumer products such as Tylenol, Benadryl and Rolaids - all the subject of recalls over product contamination and other problems - were down the most. Sales in that division fell 15 percent to $3.6 billion.

Sales of prescription drugs, which include Remicade for immune disorders and Concerta for attention deficit disorder, fell nearly 5 percent to $5.71 billion. The medical device division, now J&J's largest, did best with flat sales of $6.32 billion.

Meanwhile, J&J forecast earnings per share of $4.80 to $4.90 for 2011. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting $4.99 a share for 2011.

The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company said that in addition to the series of recalls that began in September 2009, its results were affected by the U.S. health care overhaul.

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