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John Rogers' Ariel Fund Comments on Johnson & Johnson

February 28, 2014 | About:

Holly LaFon

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was a true favorite in the 1990s mega-cap bull market, with its glory days persisting until the end of 2002. From that point through 2010, it hit a relative rough patch. During the 1991 to 2002 period, Johnson & Johnson's revenues gained a remarkable +10.2% annually; in the subsequent period they slipped to a still-solid +6.8%. Its earnings decline was not as steep. The company compounded earnings per share (EPS) at a remarkable +13.6% in the 1990s and early 2000s period before slipping to +10.4% annually in the second era. Its price/earnings (P/E) ratios showcased its increasing popularity in the first period, as well as its fall from grace. Johnson & Johnson's earnings multiple soared from 26.1x in 1991 to a lofty 37.6x in 1998 before drifting down in the bear market to 24.9x at the end of 2002. From there it plummeted, however, to a low of just 12.9x at the end of 2010. Note that while investors chopped its P/E multiple in half from 2002 to 2010, its earnings per share more than doubled...

After its slide in the current century, Johnson & Johnson took the opportunity to reinvigorate itself. Alex Gorsky, who became CEO in 2012, led a major transformation; he charged his new operations head, Sandra Peterson, with structural improvements across the company. On the pharmaceutical side, it refocused its Research & Development (R&D) on blockbuster segments such as anti-coagulants and oncology. In its medical technology division, the company boldly exited the underperforming drug-eluding stent business and deployed foreign cash through the acquisition of high-margin specialty implant maker Synthes, a Swiss company. Johnson & Johnson even bolstered its consumer brands such as Neutrogena and Band-Aid, which offer lower margins but steady cash flows. More importantly, it has gotten past the embarrassing 2010 recalls of the children's versions of Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl, and all four are now back on the shelves. We always look forward, even when analyzing a 127-year old company, and at this point see a lean, mean heavyweight ready to compete.

From John Rogers (Trades, Portfolio)' Ariel International Fund & Ariel Global Fund fourth quarter 2013 commentary by Rupal J. Bhansali.


Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote)

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