Johnson & Johnson company offices are shown in Irvine, California
Johnson & Johnson company offices are shown in Irvine, California, U.S., October 14, 2020. Reuters

Johnson & Johnson beat quarterly earnings estimates and raised its 2023 profit forecast on Tuesday, powered by strong sales for key drugs such as Crohn's disease treatment Stelara and a recovery in demand at its medical devices unit.

Shares of the Dow component, which kicked off first-quarter earnings for large U.S. drugmakers, rose 1% in premarket trading as sales across all the company's businesses, including medical devices and consumer health, topped estimates.

Sales of its closely watched cancer treatments such as prostate cancer therapy Erleada and multiple myeloma drug Darzalex beat or met analysts' estimates in the quarter.

J&J has been pinning its hopes on its multiple myeloma treatment and newer cancer drugs as its older drugs face fierce competition.

Stelara sales of $2.44 billion beat estimates of $2.41 billion as did Erleada with sales of $542 million versus estimates of $500 million. Darzalex met expectations of $2.26 billion.

Meanwhile, sales of J&J's COVID vaccine at $747 million blew past lowered estimates of $50 million.

"Pharma sales excluding COVID-19 sales performed slightly better than our expectations, and it was encouraging to see key new products doing well," said Edwards Jones analyst John Boylan.

A recovery in medical procedures after being weighed down by hospital staffing shortages helped the medical device unit post sales of $7.48 billion, topping estimates of $7.31 billion.

Sales at its consumer health unit, which the company is in the process of spinning off, rose 7.4% to $3.85 billion, surpassing estimates of $3.62 billion, powered by price hikes to offset the impact from inflation.

J&J swung to a loss of $68 million for the first quarter, from a profit of $5.15 billion, a year ago, due to a one-time charge related to the second bankruptcy filing for its talc liabilities.

The company said earlier this month it would take a $6.9 billion charge related to the bankruptcy.

On an adjusted basis, the drugmaker posted first-quarter earnings of $2.68 per share, beating estimates of $2.50.

J&J forecast adjusted earnings per share of $10.60 and $10.70 per share, compared with its prior forecast of between $10.45 and $10.65.