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JNJ: A Dysfunctional Company?



June 16, 2011 – Comments (1) | RELATED TICKERS: JNJ

Board: Johnson & Johnson

Author: Youngandold

I don't think DES was over-hyped or that this is function of being over-marketed. The question is how is it that JNJ, which is supposed to be one of the most well managed of companies, can not find a way to win?

JNJ was first to market in bare metal stents, and then ended up losing to market competitors. Their customer behavior was considered arrogant. But maybe more importantly, they couldn't iterate their product line with a cadence of improvements and next generation features. It got stale and uncompetitive and they ended up at <15% share.

When they entered the Drug Eluting Stent market with their Cypher stent, the very first stent to introduce the DES category, they swore up and down that they would not let what happened in bare metal happen in DES. They showed a planned product roadmap with an emphasis on introducing improvements and variants at regular intervaals. They were never able to deliver. Something about their decision making or R&D organization failed to deliver -- they didn't have the willingness to do what it took internally.

When they couldn't deliver there, their business development function went outside and started to try to acquire a next gen product. They signed a deal with Constar to acquire the company and the DES they were working on. A stent concept that seemed a bit hokey and used a drug that Boston Scientific seemed to have the dominant license to use for this application. They closed the transaction for something like $1.3B in Nov or Dec. Around Feb of the following year, they announced that the results of the clinical trial that Constar was conducting did not merit continuing on with the program and shut down the DES effort.

What?! That's right, three months after they signed a check for $1.3B, they shut down the program that was the primary reason for acquiring the company. You only hope someone got fired for that because that was about as irresponsible a use of shareholder money as anything you can find.

So with their pipeline dry, competitors iterating on product generations, and pricing competition heated, they decide to exit a market in which they found they could not compete. A product they originally generated $2B in sales on after their first year of introduction. I never imagined them doing it and its probably the right decision. But its only the right decision because they did not have the internal wherewithal to maintain the fierce competitive spirit and do what is required to win.

If this is what has happened to the rest of JNJ, we should all get out of the stock now. And believe me I'm thinking about it.

1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 16, 2011 at 3:06 PM, pauleckler (59.97) wrote:

I just saw a very well written letter to the editor from JNJ's ceo in a recent issue of Business Week.

He emphasized that he and JNJ employees are not perfect and regret their errors, but work hard to correct them and are still comitted at the highest level to the health and safety of their customers.

I doubt that he wrote it.  It looked extremely professional, but I was impressed with its clearly worded message.

And say, wasn't there a published study that concluded that drug delivering stents offered no advantages.  So JNJ lost their edge, and did the responsible thing in exiting the business.  That is bad luck, but technology driven businesses are like that.  Some new technologies that look promising fail to deliver and fall by the wayside.




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