Johnson & Johnson reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings but global company revenue fell slightly on anemic sales of medical devices and consumer medicines -- businesses that have been hit by costly recalls in the past two years.

The diversified healthcare company said it earned $3.91 billion, or $1.41 per share, in the first quarter. That compared with $3.48 billion, or $1.25 per share, in the year-ago period.

Excluding special items, J&J earned $1.37 per share, topping the average analyst forecast of $1.35 per share, compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Global company revenue slipped 0.2 percent to $16.14 billion, versus Wall Street expectations of $16.26 billion.

(Reporting By Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)