Despite the coronavirus pandemic hurting sales of most of its products, Johnson & Johnson boosted revenue slightly and doubled its third-quarter profit, mainly due to a huge litigation charge in the year-ago quarter.
The world's biggest maker of health care products blew past Wall Street expectations, saying its sales were recovering sooner than expected as people started getting delayed care. It raised its financial forecast for the year.
But its stock price still tumbled Tuesday, amid a decline in broader markets and news that J&J had to temporarily pause all its COVID vaccine studies, including the huge, late-stage study pivotal to approval of its vaccine, “due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.”
Such pauses are not unusual in big studies, and it's unknown whether the participant — one of up to 60,000 planned for the global “ENSEMBLE” study — got J&J's shot or a placebo. J&J executives told analysts on a conference call that the independent monitoring board overseeing the safety of study participants is investigating the case and it will be a few days before J&J knows more, but the company is still on track to complete enrollment in that study in two or three months.
J&Js on Tuesday reported net income of $3.55 billion, or $1.33 per share, up 103% from $1.75 billion, or 66 cents per share, in 2019's third quarter. Adjusted net income was $5.87 billion, or $2.20 per share. Analysts were expecting $1.99 per share.