Johnson & Johnson JNJ earnings Q2 2021

In this photo illustration a Johnson & Johnson logo is seen in front of a medical syringe and a vial with coronavirus vaccine.

Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it expects to sell $2.5 billion of its Covid-19 vaccine this year, even as concerns mount over the shot’s effectiveness against the delta variant.

In releasing its second-quarter financial results, the company also reported earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations.

Here’s how J&J did compared with what Wall Street expected, according to average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $2.48 per share vs $2.27 expected.
  • Revenue: $23.31 billion vs $22.21 billion expected.

The company’s share price was up nearly 1% in premarket trading following the report.

J&J’s pharmaceutical business, which developed the single-shot Covid vaccine, generated $12.59 billion in revenue, a 17.2% year-over-year increase.

Jennifer Taubert, J&J’s chairman for pharmaceuticals, said most of the company’s core business lines are back to “pre-Covid levels,” with the drugmaker seeing strength coming back in the United States and in Europe. The unit expects to continue to see strong sales regardless of Covid variants or any other “blips” related to the pandemic, she said.

The company’s consumer unit, which makes products such as Neutrogena face wash and Listerine, generated $3.7 billion in revenue, up 13.3% from a year earlier. Its medical device unit generated $6.9 billion, a 62.7% increase. That unit was hit hard last year as the pandemic forced hospitals to postpone elective surgeries and Americans stayed home.

“We’ve all realized over the last 18 months just how important good health is and elective isn’t elective forever,” J&J Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk told CNBC after the company released its earnings report Wednesday.

Global sales of the Covid vaccine in the quarter were $164 million.

The company raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the year. J&J now expects a full-year profit of $9.50 to $9.60 per share, compared with its previous forecast of $9.30 to $9.45 per share. It expects revenue between $92.5 billion and $93.3 billion, compared with its prior forecast of $89.3 billion to $90.3 billion.

During an earnings call, J&J executives said it is too early to provide specific information on an outlook for 2022 and beyond for the Covid vaccine given the uncertainty on the need for booster shots and the spread of highly transmissible variants.

They said the company expects data from its study testing two doses of its vaccine in the third quarter or early fourth quarter of this year.

The financial results come a day after a new study suggested the J&J vaccine is much less effective against the delta and lambda variants than against the original virus. Researchers are now suggesting that a booster dose may be needed for J&J recipients.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, is at odds with a report from the company, which found the shot is effective against delta, especially against severe disease and hospitalization, even eight months after inoculation.

Delta, the dominant variant in the U.S., now accounts for an estimated 83% of infections in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wolk told CNBC Wednesday that people should be “guarded” about the new study, adding the results were based on blood samples in a lab and may not reflect the shot’s performance in a real world setting.

“I think it’s probably best for everyone to refer to health officials who have not yet recommended a booster, even for some less duration vaccines out there,” he said.

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