The quarterly results season has opened with Johnson & Johnson unveiling a decline in earnings and revenues but analysts are pretty pleased by the performance.

Group net earnings for the first quarter slipped 2.5% to $3.50 billion while turnover was down 7.2% to $15.02 billion. Worldwide pharmaceutical sales reached $5.78 billion, a fall of 10.1%, and J&J’s biggest seller was once again the anti-inflammatory Remicade (infliximab), sales of which were up 3.0% to $1.03 billion.

Turnover from the antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) collapsed 66.0% to $275 million, as generic competition tore into US sales of the blockbuster (down 79.7% to $118 million). However, the longer-acting form of the drug, Risperdal Consta, enjoyed a 5.2% increase in sales to $325 million.

There was bad news as well for J&J’s anaemia therapy Procrit/Eprex (epoetin alfa), which fell 12.6% to $550 million, hurt by continued concerns over cardiovascular safety for the entire erythropoiesis-stimulating class of drugs. The anti-infective Levaquin/Floxin (levofloxacin) fell 14.3% to $425 million, while sales of the Alzheimer’s disease drug Reminyl/Razadyne (galantamine) sank 32.2% to $101 million.

The epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) brought in $602 million, down 6.8%. On the bright side, however, turnover from the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder therapy Concerta (methylphenidate) climbed 18.6% to $344 million, while Velcade (bortezomib), for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was up 4.3% to $192 million. Sales of the new HIV therapy Prezista (darunavir) were up 64.9% to $122 million.

As for J&J’s other divisions, medical devices and diagnostics sales reached $5.54 billion, a 2.9% decrease, while turnover from the consumer division were down 8.7% to $3.71 billion. Chief executive William Weldon was pleased, however, saying that "despite challenging economic and near-term business pressures, we continue to deliver solid financial results”. He added that "we are continuing to make strategic investments in order to bring important new products to market, positioning us well for long-term growth”.

J&J added that it is sticking with its flat 2009 earnings guidance of $4.45-$4.55 per share.