J&J Raises 2021 Profit View, Keeps Vaccine Sales Outlook Unchanged

Vials labelled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and sryinge are seen in front of displayed Johnson&Johnson logo in this illustration taken, February 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) on Tuesday raised its annual adjusted profit forecast but stuck to its COVID-19 vaccine sales target of $2.5 billion as it works its way through production challenges that have resulted in delays.

The drugmaker had earlier this year faced quality problems at a Baltimore manufacturing facility that produces the single-dose vaccine, resulting in the wastage of millions of doses.

The vaccine has the lowest uptake in the United States at a time when rivals Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) and Pfizer (PFE.N) sign up supply deals for booster doses in 2022 and beyond.

The J&J shot once touted an as important tool for vaccinating hard-to-reach areas, is behind its schedule for deliveries in the United States and Europe.

Meanwhile, a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on booster doses of the vaccine is pending.

Shares rose 1% as the healthcare conglomerate's third-quarter profit beat Wall Street expectations and it lifted the 2021 forecast for adjusted earnings per share to between $9.77 and $9.82, from its prior estimates of $9.60 to $9.70.

Sales of its cancer and immune disease drugs helped the healthcare conglomerate report a 13.8% rise in sales to roughly $13 billion at its large pharmaceuticals unit. The COVID-19 vaccine only contributes a fraction to the sales.

Sales in its medical devices unit rose 8% to $6.64 billion in the third quarter, as a restart of hip and knee surgeries and other non-urgent procedures helped soften the blow from weak demand for medical devices used in sports and spine procedures.

Excluding items, J&J earned $2.60 per share, beating expectations of $2.35 per share.

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