Johnson & Johnson raised its full-year earnings forecast as it reported higher third-quarter sales of psoriasis treatment Stelara and cancer drug Imbruvica while attempting to alleviate investor concerns over mounting legal challenges.

Shares of the US healthcare conglomerate, which also has huge medical devices and consumer products units, rose 2% to $133,70, contributing to a strong early performance on Wall Street overall on Tuesday.

J&J shares have been under pressure this year, widely underperforming the S&P healthcare sector, as the company faces more than 13,000 lawsuits tied to antipsychotic drug Risperdal as well as a range of potentially costly lawsuits involving its baby powder, opioids, medical devices and other products.

J&J did not report litigation expenses for the third quarter. Its legal costs over the first nine months remained at $832 million, as was reported at the end of the second quarter. 

The company is the first major drugmaker to report quarterly earnings and its upbeat outlook and results could be a positive sign for the sector. Ongoing litigation overhang could limit any boost in shares.

The company reiterated that it does not expect last week's outsized jury award of $8 billion in punitive damages J&J was ordered to pay a man in a Risperdal product liability case to stand. "We will appeal the amount and you can expect that to come down should precedent hold," said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk.