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J&J keeps vaccine sales outlook unchanged after third-quarter miss

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By Manas Mishra and Carl O'Donnell 

  (Reuters) -Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday reported lower-than- expected quarterly revenue after sales of its COVID-19 vaccine missed Wall Street estimates following a string of production setbacks. 

  The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company maintained its 2021 sales goal of $2.5 billion from the vaccine, and said it recorded $766 million in sales of the shot in the first nine months of 2021 - which indicates that sales will have to more than triple in the fourth quarter to meet its forecast. 

  "We're still very much committed to the $2.5 billion of revenue and the supply that is correlated to that," Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk told investors on a conference call. 

  The drugmaker earlier this year experienced quality problems at a Baltimore manufacturing facility that produces the single-dose vaccine, resulting in wastage of millions of doses. 

  The J&J shot, once touted an as important tool for vaccinating hard-to-reach areas, is behind its schedule for deliveries in the United States and Europe. 

  The vaccine has the lowest uptake in the United States at a time when rivals Moderna Inc and Pfizer are signing up supply deals for booster doses in 2022 and beyond. 

  "It's hard to say if J&J will meet that target or not, but with the booster guidance coming out soon, that could provide a boost to the fourth quarter," Edwards Jones analyst Ashtyn Evans told Reuters. 

  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to authorize a booster dose of the J&J vaccine, with a decision expected in the coming days. 

  J&J's shares rose nearly 2% in morning trade, reversing a premarket fall, as the company raised its overall adjusted profit forecast and beat earnings estimates. 

  Sales in its medical devices unit rose 8% to $6.64 billion but missed analyst estimates of $6.87 billion, hurt by a resurgence in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. 

  Excluding items, J&J earned $2.60 per share, beating expectations of $2.35 per share, according to Refinitv data. 

  J&J lifted its 2021 forecast for adjusted earnings per share to between $9.77 and $9.82, from its prior estimates of $9.60 to $9.70. 

  Overall sales of $23.34 billion missed expectations of $23.72 billion. 

  COVID-19 vaccine sales of $502 million missed estimates of $815 million, according to FactSet. 

  (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham and Arun Koyyur) 

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