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The Strongest Pharma Stock This Week

Tighter bank lending and the Fed’s continued fight against inflation will likely push the economy into a recession this year. In this scenario, investors can look to invest in the pharma giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), given its financial strength, reliable dividend payments, and solid growth prospects. Read more…

Despite the current banking crisis, the Federal Reserve went ahead with a 25-basis-point interest rate hike, bringing the federal funds rate to a new range of 4.75% to 5%, the highest since October 2007. With the federal funds rate likely to climb higher and the banks likely to tighten lending, there is a significant risk of a recession this year.

Amid the uncertainty, investing in pharmaceutical major Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) could be wise. Pharmaceutical stocks are some of the most stable investment options during a recession, as the demand for drugs and therapies is largely inelastic. This helps them maintain their profit margins irrespective of the economic cycles.

Let me explain why it could be prudent to buy JNJ now.

JNJ’s EPS was 5% above the consensus estimate in the fourth quarter, while its revenue missed analyst estimates by 0.8%. JNJ’s Chairman and CEO Joaquin Duato said, “Our full year 2022 results reflect the continued strength and stability of our three business segments, despite macroeconomic challenges.”

“As we look ahead to 2023, Johnson & Johnson is well-positioned to drive near-term growth, while also investing strategically to deliver long-term value,” he added.

For fiscal 2022, the company’s U.S. and Worldwide sales rose 3% and 1.3% year-over-year to $48.58 billion and $94.94 billion, respectively. On the other hand, its International sales declined 0.6% year-over-year to $46.36 billion.

JNJ’s sales were flat last year due to a fall in vaccine sales, lack of tax credits, and strengthening of the U.S. dollar. Full-year sales of STELARA rose 6.5% year-over-year, while TREMFYA sales increased 25.4% year-over-year. On the other hand, REMICADE and SIMPONI/SIMPONI ARIA sales declined 26.6% and 4% year-over-year, respectively.

For fiscal 2023, the company expects its adjusted operational sales growth, excluding the Covid-19 vaccine, to come between 3.5% and 4.5%. JNJ’s adjusted operational EPS is likely to come between $10.40 and $10.60.

In addition, its adjusted EPS is expected to come in the range of $10.45 to $10.65. JNJ is expected to spin off its consumer products unit under a new business called Kenvue in November. This new business will include popular brands such as Neutrogena, Band-Aid, Listerine, Tylenol, and others.

JNJ’s revenue has grown at a CAGR of 5% over the past three years. The company’s EBIT grew at a CAGR of 6.6% over the past three years. Likewise, its net income has grown at a CAGR of 5.9% during the same time frame.

JNJ's four-year average dividend yield is 2.61%, and its forward annual dividend of $4.52 translates to a 2.99% yield. Its dividend has grown at a 6% CAGR over the past three years. The company paid a quarterly dividend of $1.13 per share on March 7, 2023.

The stock has declined 14.5% in price year-to-date and 13.7% over the past year to close the last trading session at $151.05.

Here’s what could influence JNJ’s performance in the upcoming months:

Positive Recent Developments

On December 22, 2022, JNJ announced the completion of its acquisition of Abiomed. JNJ’s CEO, Joaquin Duato, said, “This acquisition marks another important step on Johnson & Johnson’s path to accelerating growth in our MedTech business and delivering innovative medical technologies to more people around the world.”

On March 4, 2023, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of JNJ announced final pooled long-term safety results for STELARA (ustekinumab) through five years in adults with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease and four years in adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis (UC), as well as final four-year clinical and endoscopic outcomes from the UNIFI long-term extension study evaluating the efficacy of STELARA for the treatment of adults with moderately to severely active UC.

UNIFI study author Waqqas Afif, M.D. Associate Professor, Department of Medicine; Division of Gastroenterology at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada, said, “These data reinforce the known efficacy and safety profile of STELARA, and demonstrate it can be an effective long-term treatment option for patients living with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis.”

On March 17, 2023, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of JNJ announced new data which showed that initiation of TREMFYA was associated with greater treatment persistence compared to secukinumab or ixekizumab in bio-naïve and bio-experienced patients living with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, based on pairwise analyses of real-world data.

TREMFYA demonstrated durable clinical efficacy, itch relief, and quality-of-life improvements in patients living with scalp PsO.

Solid Financials

JNJ’s U.S. sales increased 2.9% year-over-year to $12.52 billion for the fourth quarter ended January 1, 2023. The company’s adjusted net earnings increased 9.5% year-over-year to $6.22 billion. Also, its adjusted EPS came in at $2.35, representing an increase of 10.3% year-over-year.

For the fiscal year ended January 1, 2023, JNJ’s worldwide sales rose 1.3% year-over-year to $94.94 billion. The company’s adjusted net earnings increased 3.2% over the prior-year period to $27.04 billion. In addition, its adjusted EPS came in at $10.15, representing an increase of 3.6% year-over-year.

Favorable Analyst Estimates

Analysts expect JNJ’s EPS for fiscal 2023 and 2024 to increase 3.6% and 4.1% year-over-year to $10.51 and $10.94, respectively. Its revenue for fiscal 2023 and 2024 is expected to increase 2.8% and 2.6% year-over-year to $97.63 billion and $100.20 billion, respectively.

Its revenue for the quarter ending March 31, 2023, is expected to increase 0.7% year-over-year to $23.58 billion. It surpassed Wall Street EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Discounted Valuation

In terms of forward non-GAAP P/E, JNJ’s 14.37x is 24.1% lower than the 18.95x industry average. Its 12.14x forward EV/EBITDA is 6.6% lower than the 13x industry average. Likewise, its 13.26x forward EV/EBIT is 17.9% lower than the 16.16x industry average.

High Profitability

In terms of the trailing-12-month gross profit margin, JNJ’s 67.36% is 21% higher than the 55.66% industry average. Likewise, its 0.51x trailing-12-month asset turnover ratio is 51.3% higher than the industry average of 0.34x. Furthermore, the stock’s trailing-12-month levered FCF margin came in at 20.21% compared to the negative 3.99% industry average.

POWR Ratings Show Promise

JNJ has an overall rating of A, equating to a Strong Buy in our POWR Ratings system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors, each weighted to an optimal degree.

Our proprietary rating system also evaluates each stock based on eight distinct categories. JNJ has a B grade for Value, consistent with its discounted valuation.

It has a B grade for Quality, in sync with its high profitability. The stock has a 0.53 beta, justifying its A grade for Stability.

JNJ is ranked #7 out of 166 stocks in the Medical – Pharmaceuticals industry. Click here to access JNJ’s Growth, Momentum, and Sentiment ratings.

Bottom Line

JNJ aims to generate pharmaceutical sales of $60 billion by 2025, relying mainly on eight key brands. With JNJ hiving off its consumer health segment into a separate entity, the stock is expected to become even more attractive as the company will be able to focus more on its highly profitable pharmaceutical business. Also, acquiring Abiomed will help it enter the high-growth cardiovascular space.

Given its promising pipeline of drugs and therapies, its long-term prospects look bright. Therefore, it could be wise to buy JNJ given its robust financials, favorable analyst estimates, solid historical growth, discounted valuation, high profitability, and stable dividend payouts.

How Does Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Stack up Against Its Peers?

JNJ has an overall POWR Rating of A, equating to a Strong Buy rating. Check out these other stocks within the Medical - Pharmaceuticals industry with an A (Strong Buy) rating: Novo Nordisk A/S (NVO), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY), and Novartis AG (NVS).

Consider This Before Placing Your Next Trade…

We are still in the midst of a bear market.

Yes, some special stocks may go up like the ones discussed in this article. But most will tumble as the bear market claws ever lower this year.

That is why you need to discover the “REVISED: 2023 Stock Market Outlook” that was just created by 40 year investment veteran Steve Reitmeister. There he explains:

  • 5 Warnings Signs the Bear Returns Starting Now!
  • Banking Crisis Concerns Another Nail in the Coffin
  • How Low Will Stocks Go?
  • 7 Timely Trades to Profit on the Way Down
  • Plan to Bottom Fish For Next Bull Market
  • 2 Trades with 100%+ Upside Potential as New Bull Emerges
  • And Much More!

You owe it to yourself to watch this timely presentation before placing your next trade.

REVISED: 2023 Stock Market Outlook >

JNJ shares were trading at $151.46 per share on Thursday afternoon, up $0.41 (+0.27%). Year-to-date, JNJ has declined -13.64%, versus a 3.96% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Dipanjan Banchur

Since he was in grade school, Dipanjan was interested in the stock market. This led to him obtaining a master’s degree in Finance and Accounting. Currently, as an investment analyst and financial journalist, Dipanjan has a strong interest in reading and analyzing emerging trends in financial markets.


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