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Fitch affirms J&J's ratings on consistent operating, financial performance

Fitch Ratings affirmed Johnson & Johnson's long-term issuer-default rating at AAA and its short-term issuer default rating at F1+, with a stable outlook.

The ratings actions reflect the company's consistent operating and financial performance supported by a diverse business portfolio of healthcare industry-leading positions, namely in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and consumer health.

Johnson & Johnson has been constantly generating positive free cash flow on the back of relatively stable revenues, strong margins and continued focus on cost control through conservative financial policies. The company is also expected to reduce its gross debt leverage through debt reduction and EBITDA growth.

The Brunswick, N.J.-based company's long-term growth is expected to be driven by innovation in combination with its internal research and development efforts and external collaborations and acquisitions.

Johnson & Johnson is expected to continue deploying cash for growth and dividends and may increase share repurchases when potential investment returns for growth-related transactions become less attractive.

The rating agency anticipates that the company will achieve low single-digit revenue growth in 2019 and continue focusing on cost controls in the near term.