US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson beat general expectations for performance in the second quarter, as strong sales boosted net earnings 9% to $2.82 billion, or $0.95 a share.

The company said that its medical devices, consumer products and prescription medicines performed particularly well in the period, driving record sales of $13.4 billion, up 4.7% over the year-earlier quarter.

US turnover of J&J’s Cypher stent grew 11% to $355 million, giving it a 47% share of the market, while internationally they rose 2% to $340 million, according to media reports.

In direct contrast to the first quarter of this year, which saw revenue from J&J’s pharmaceuticals unit dip 2.2%, sales from the division climbed 3.2% to $5.8 billion, on strong growth of: the schizophrenia drug Risperdal (risperidone); Remicade for rheumatoid arthritis (infliximab); Topamax (topiramate) for epilepsy; and Concerta (methylphenidate) for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Overall, domestic sales increased 2.4% and 4.7% outside the USA.

“Our second-quarter results demonstrated improving performance, which is anticipated to continue throughout the remainder of the year,” commented William Weldon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the firm. “We have made a number of business-building investments and have received several significant regulatory product approvals. These investments and approvals will help us both sustain important leadership positions as well as enter new high growth markets characterized by unmet medical need.”

These business-building investments include the company’s planned purchase of Pfizer’s Consumer Healthcare business for $16.6 billion in cash. The transaction is projected to close by the end of 2006, and will build upon the group’s “broad base in health care products and leadership objectives in the consumer, pharmaceutical and medical devices and diagnostics markets,” according to Weldon.