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​Johnson & Johnson rides strong prescription sales in 1Q

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) on Tuesday posted a 0.6 percent decline in first-quarter profit, but still beat Wall Street's expectations as strong sales of prescription drugs nearly offset a big hit from the strong dollar.

The world's biggest maker of health care products reported net income of $4.29 billion, or $1.54 per share. That was down from $4.32 billion, or $1.53 per share, in 2015's first quarter.

The maker of baby shampoo, prescription medicines and medical devices reported adjusted profit, which excludes amortization costs and restructuring costs, of $1.68 per share. That easily beat the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research, who anticipated earnings of $1.64 per share.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company had revenue of $17.48 billion in the period, up 0.6 percent from $17.37 billion in the year-ago quarter. That also topped Street forecasts for revenue of $17.42 billion.

Johnson & Johnson said revenue was pulled down 3.3 percent by the strong dollar, which reduced the value of products bought in local currencies. Nearly half the company's sales are made overseas.

J&J raised its 2016 profit forecast by a dime, to a range of $6.53 to $6.68 per share, from its January forecast. It also hiked its revenue forecast to a range of $71.2 billion to $71.9 billion, up from $70.8 billion to $71.5 billion.

"We're off to a strong start to the year, supported by our first-quarter underlying sales growth," CEO Alex Gorsky said in a company release. "Our Pharmaceuticals business continues to deliver impressive levels of growth, we have steady improvement in our Consumer business, and we are seeing momentum in our Medical Devices businesses, all of which are fueling our optimism for the full-year ahead."

Sales of prescription drugs, J&J's biggest unit, jumped 5.9 percent to $8.18 billion, driven by higher sales of immune disorder drugs Remicade, Simponi and Stelara, and Xarelto for preventing heart attacks and strokes, plus sales of new blood cancer drug Imbruvica.

Sales of medical devices dipped 2.4 percent, to $6.11 billion, while sales of consumer health products such as pain reliever Tylenol fell 5.8 percent to $3.2 billion.

Johnson & Johnson shares have risen 11 percent in the last 12 months.