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J&J (JNJ) to Pay $4.69 Billion to Some Women in Talc Lawsuit

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A jury in St. Louis ordered Johnson & Johnson JNJ to pay $4.69 billion in damages to 22 women and their families who claimed that the company’s baby powder contained asbestos, which caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The verdict is the largest J&J has faced to date over allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer. The damages comprised $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.

J&J, in an official statement, said it was disappointed with the verdict, and denied that its talc products cause cancer and that they ever contained asbestos. The company is battling some 9,000 talc cases. It stated that decades of studies show its talc to be safe and has successfully overturned previous talc verdicts on technical legal grounds. The shares of the company fell by about 1% in after-hours trading on Thursday. The company plans to appeal the case.

Year to date, shares of the company have declined 8.5% compared with the industry’s decline of 0.8%.


J&J is expected to report its second quarter financial results on Jul 17, 2018. The positive sales trend witnessed in the past three quarters is expected to continue in the second quarter as well. J&J is quite confident that its Pharma segment will continue to perform better than the market this year, despite the impact of biosimilars on sales of its key arthritis drug, Remicade. Sales in the Consumer and Medical Device segments are also expected to improve.

New products in all segments, successful label expansion of cancer drugs like Imbruvica and Darzalex, and contribution from recent acquisitions should continue to drive top-line growth. Core products like Stelara, Zytiga, Simponi/Simponi Aria and Invega Sustenna are expected to boost growth further.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

J&J has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks from the same space are Eisai Co. ESALY and ChemoCentryx, Inc. CCXI, and H. Lundbeck A/S HLUYY. All of them carry a Zacks Rank#1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Eisai’s earnings estimates have moved up from $1.77 to $1.94 for 2018 over the past 60 days and from $1.38 to $1.39 for 2019 over the past 30 days. The stock has rallied 68.1% so far this year.

ChemoCentryx’s loss per share estimates have narrowed from $1.02 to 82 cents for 2018 over the past 60 days. The company delivered a positive earnings surprise in three of the trailing four quarters with an average beat of 135.3%. The stock has rallied 128.8% so far this year.

H. Lundbeck’s earnings per share estimates have increased from $3.20 to $3.57 for 2018 and from $3.24 to $3.38 for 2019 in the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 38% so far this year.

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