October 30, 2020

Johnson & Johnson falls despite earnings beat after pausing COVID-19 vaccine trial due to unexpected illness

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FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo  GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD
  • Johnson & Johnson fell as much as 3% on Tuesday after it temporarily paused its COVID-19 vaccine trial due to an “unexpected illness” in a trial participant. 
  • “Adverse events – illnesses, accidents, etc. – even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. 
  • The pause in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial overshadowed its third quarter earnings results released on Tuesday, which beat analyst estimates and included a full-year guidance raise.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Investors are laser-focused on COVID-19 vaccine trials, which became apparent on Tuesday after Johnson & Johnson fell as much as 3% in pre-market trading despite reporting a better-than-expected third quarter earnings report.

On Monday evening, the healthcare giant said it paused its large-scale COVID-19 vaccine trial after a patient in the study became unexpectedly ill.

The company is unaware if the patient is in the placebo arm or the vaccine arm of the trial, and is awaiting a review of the illness from the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board before moving forward.

Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit. The vaccine candidate is in its phase III trial with 60,000 participants.

Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: Buy these 44 cheap stocks poised to surge as the economy continues to recover and reopening expands.

While investors soured on the vaccine trial pause, they might find solace in Johnson & Johnson’s better-than-expected third quarter earnings report.

Here are the key numbers:

Revenue: $21.08 billion, versus the $20.2 billion
Adjusted EPS: $2.20, versus the $1.98 estimate

On top of the earnings beat, the company raised its fiscal year 2020 revenue guidance to a range of  $81.2 billion to $82.0 billion from a range of $79.9 billion to $81.4 billion. It raised its adjusted earnings-per-share guidance to between $7.95 and $8.05 from between $7.75 and $7.95.

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The strong earnings results helped pare some of the decline related to the pause in its COVID-19 vaccine trial, but not all, with shares trading down 1% just before the market open.

Investors will likely move Johnson & Johnson out of the penalty box once the temporary pause in its COVID-19 vaccine trial is lifted.

The company reminded investors that an adverse event in a 60,000-patient trial is not out of the ordinary.

“Adverse events – illnesses, accidents, etc. – even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

Read more: ‘The largest financial crisis in history’: A 47-year market vet says the COVID-19 crash was merely a ‘fake-out sell-off’ — and warns of an 80% stock plunge fraught with bank failures and bankruptcies

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