Johnson & Johnson Vision sales drop in first quarter

The company manufactures contact lenses in Jacksonville; Watson Mortgage sale announced.

  • By Mark Basch
  • | 12:05 a.m. April 25, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The Johnson & Johnson Vision headquarters in in Deerwood Park in South Jacksonville.
The Johnson & Johnson Vision headquarters in in Deerwood Park in South Jacksonville.
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Johnson & Johnson reported sales at its Jacksonville-based vision care products business fell in the first quarter, but it expects a rebound for the rest of 2024.

Total vision sales fell 3.3% to $1.258 billion, with sales of contact lenses dropping 4.6% to $910 million.

Sales of surgical products for vision rose slightly.

Johnson & Johnson Vision makes contact lenses at its Jacksonville headquarters and at a second manufacturing facility in Ireland. The surgical products are made in other plants.

In parent company Johnson & Johnson’s April 16 conference call with analysts, Tim Schmid, worldwide chairman of the company’s MedTech businesses, said he was not concerned about the first quarter performance.

“There has been some noise specifically in relation to our Vision business. But please rest assured, we are extremely confident in the underlying health of our Vision portfolio,” he said, according to a company transcript of the call.

“This is a business that grew 6.6% last year, and we expect it to grow in a high single-digit percentage this year.”

The lower first-quarter results were caused by stocking issues, Schmid said.

“The Q1 performance was predominantly driven by a contraction of U.S. distributor inventory in contact lenses,” he said.

“As we have mentioned in the past, we had some variability in terms of our supply, which resulted in changes within distributor inventory.”

Schmid said the key to Johnson & Johnson’s contact lens business growth is gaining market share of new users while protecting its customer base.

“If we look at sequential share gains across the contact lens business, we are seeing sequential gains, which should bode well for continued performance for the remainder of the year,” he said.

Johnson & Johnson reported total first-quarter sales rose 2.3% to $21.4 billion.

The New Jersey-based medical products giant’s adjusted earnings rose by 30 cents a share to $2.71.

Lake City bank agrees to buy Watson Mortgage

Lake City-based First Federal Bank announced April 18 it agreed to buy Watson Mortgage Corp., the home lending subsidiary of Jacksonville-based Watson Realty Corp.

Watson Realty, founded in 1965, formed the mortgage company in 1994. According to a story by HousingWire, citing statistics from mortgage data firm Modex, Watson Mortgage originated about $78 million in loans last year.

First Federal originated about $435 million in mortgage loans, it said.

First Federal, with $3.9 billion in assets, has 25 branches in North and Central Florida and South Carolina. It also has mortgage operations centers in Jacksonville and three other cities.

The bank said it will transition the Watson Mortgage platform to the First Federal brand within a few months of closing.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

GEE Group targets growth, acquisitions

Jacksonville-based staffing company GEE Group Inc. said April 22 after a review of strategic alternatives, the company will focus on growing through acquisitions.

GEE Group engaged investment banking firm DC Advisory in December  to assist with its review, suggesting the company could be up for sale. GEE Group had been targeted by activist investors to consider new strategies.

“After extensive evaluation and deliberation, the Board determined the ongoing execution of the Company’s strategic plan for internal growth coupled with an accelerated program for strategic acquisitions is the best way to maximize value for shareholders at this time,” GEE Group said in a news release.

CEO Derek Dewan said in the release the company has a strong balance sheet with no debt.

“Regarding our capital allocation, we expect to utilize excess cash to follow through on DC Advisory’s recommendation to make strategic acquisitions with a mix of consideration, except for the use of GEE’s stock in any manner that disadvantages shareholders,” he said.

Dewan has a history of building staffing companies. He was CEO of Jacksonville-based MPS Group Inc., which grew into a major corporation that was sold to Adecco Group for $1.3 billion in 2010.

Dewan has been CEO of GEE Group since its acquired Jacksonville-based Scribe Solutions Inc. in 2015, which was run by Dewan.

GEE Group then moved its headquarters from the Chicago area to Jacksonville in 2018.

“Despite the present macroeconomic challenges and industry specific headwinds, we remain confident about our long-term business and operating strategy,” Dewan said in the news release.

Analyst sees headwinds limiting Regency’s stock

Mizuho Securities analyst Haendel St. Juste has a positive view of Regency Centers Corp. but doesn’t expect to see big gains in the Jacksonville-based shopping developer’s stock in the near term.

“We believe Regency has one of the highest-quality portfolios in Shopping Centers, anchored by defensive tenants in favorable demographics, supported by one of the best balance sheets in the space,” St. Juste said in an initiation report April 17 on Regency.

He also said the stock’s performance has lagged Regency’s peers, which could suggest an attractive entry point for investors. However, he expects macro trends to hold the stock back.

“Despite a number of key positives, we believe the lack of clear and present catalysts and a difficult macro for REITs (especially longer-duration) will likely limit the stock’s near-term performance,” he said.

St. Juste rated Regency “neutral” with a total return opportunity of 10%, with the stock trading at $57.29 at the time of his report.



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