J&J 2008 profit forecast in line with expectations

NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N on Tuesday said it expects full-year 2008 earnings of $4.39 to $4.44 per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

The forecast, which excludes special items, would represent earnings growth of 5.7 to 6.9 percent, compared with 2007 earnings of $4.15 per share.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates, on average, had forecast a 2008 profit of $4.42 per share.

The diversified health-care company also told industry analysts and investors it expects sales of its array of medicines, medical devices and consumer products to grow 4 to 5 percent in 2008.

It also projected an effective tax rate during the year of 24 to 24.5 percent. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson, editing by Dave Zimmerman)