Why Johnson & Johnson Stock Is Not Reacting More Positively to Earnings

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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) reported fourth-quarter 2019 results before markets opened Wednesday. The health care giant reported quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.88 on revenue of $20.75 billion. In the same period a year ago, it reported EPS of $1.97 on revenue of $20.39 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.87 on revenue of $20.8 billion.

For the full fiscal year, the company reported EPS of $8.68 on revenues of $82.06 billion, compared to 2018 EPS of $8.18 and revenues of $81.58 billion. Analysts had forecast $8.67 in EPS and revenues of $82.12 billion.

For fiscal year 2020, Johnson & Johnson guided revenues in a range of $85.4 billion to $86.2 billion, a year-over-year increase in the range of 4% to 5%. EPS is forecast in a range of $8.95 to $9.10, a rise of 3.1% to 4.8% year over year. Analysts had estimated EPS of $9.10 and sales of $85.48 billion.

Adjusted for currency fluctuations, the company’s quarterly worldwide sales dipped by 0.9% year over year, with sales in its consumer segment down by 2% internationally. Pharmaceutical sales for the quarter rose by 3.9% in the United States and 2.9% internationally. Foreign currency adjustments lowered international revenues by 2.2% year over year and the entire segment slipped by 0.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.

Total full-year revenues, adjusted for currency differences, were down 4.6% internationally and 2.2% overall. International consumer products sales dipped by 2.7%, pharmaceuticals sales slipped by 5.1% and medical device sales fell by 4%.

CEO Alex Gorsky said:

We delivered strong underlying sales and earnings growth in 2019, driven by the strength of our Pharmaceutical business, accelerating performance in our Medical Devices business and improved profitability in our Consumer business. As we enter into 2020 and this next decade, our strategic investments focused on advancing our pipelines and driving innovation across our entire product portfolio, position us well to deliver long-term sustainable growth and value to our shareholders.

Narrowly beating estimates for earnings and revenues is rarely bullish to investors. In Johnson & Johnson’s case, the narrow beats turned into misses when adjusted for currency differences. The company’s 2020 guidance put the consensus analyst estimate for EPS at the top end of the company’s range and the revenue estimate at the bottom of the consensus range. That’s weak. Or it is cagey, managing expectations for the year ahead. Either way, it’s not enough for investors.

Shares traded down about 0.1% in Wednesday’s premarket, at $149.06 in a 52-week range of $125.00 to $150.17. The high was posted Tuesday. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $157.20. Johnson & Johnson offers a dividend yield of 2.55%, at Tuesday’s closing price.


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