CVS Earnings, Merger With Aetna Look Good to Investors

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CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS) reported third-quarter results before markets opened Tuesday. The pharmacy retail operator posted quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.73 on revenues of $47.3 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.50 on revenues of $46.18 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.71 on revenues of $47.2 billion.

Same-store sales increased by 6.7% and pharmacy same-store sales increased 8.7% in the latest quarter. The increase in pharmacy same-store sales was driven primarily by an increase in pharmacy same-store prescription volumes, partially offset by continued reimbursement pressure and a negative impact of approximately 190 basis points due to recent generic introductions.

The company reiterated guidance for full-year adjusted EPS in a range of $6.98 to $7.08. Operating profit for the year is forecast to decline by 39% to 41% due to a goodwill impairment taken in the second quarter. Analysts had an estimate of $2.17 for fourth-quarter EPS on revenues of $49.29 billion. For the full year, analysts were looking for EPS of $7.04 and revenues of $188.9 billion.

CEO Larry Merlo said:

Strong revenue and adjusted EPS, along with significant cash flow year-to-date, demonstrate our success in driving value. Our year-to-date results continue to validate our confidence in the strength of our model. As we approach the closing of our transformative acquisition of Aetna, our integration teams are making great progress to assure that once final approvals are obtained, we can begin to execute on our integration plans.

The company’s proposed $70 billion acquisition of Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) received Department of Justice clearance last month following Aetna’s announcement in September that it would divest its Medicare drug business. The merger still requires approval from regulators in five states, and the company expects the deal to close before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Shares traded up more than 3.3% at one point in Tuesday’s premarket but have settled in around 2.3% about an hour before the opening bell at $75.11 in a 52-week range of $60.14 to $83.88. The consensus price target on the stock is $88.20.