CVS Health's Results Top Views as Prescription Volumes Climb – Wall Street Journal

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A customer waits at the counter of a CVS Pharmacy store in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. Retail pharmacy sales remained strong for CVS Health in the first quarter.


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A customer waits at the counter of a CVS Pharmacy store in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. Retail pharmacy sales remained strong for CVS Health in the first quarter.


Photo:

Reuters

By

Lisa Beilfuss

May 3, 2016 7:38 a.m. ET

CVS Health Corp. logged better-than-expected results for its first quarter, as recent acquisitions helped push prescription volumes higher.

The drugstore chain made two acquisitions last year, looking to bring in more patients to counter the effect of falling reimbursement rates. Such rates are under pressure as more drugs are dispensed through the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, which carry lower margins than private insurers. The company has folded in Omnicare Inc., which dispenses drugs to places like nursing homes, in addition to Target Corp.’s pharmacy business.

In the first quarter, CVS said sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.2%, below the 5.3% clip analysts expected but up from 3.5% in the fourth quarter. The increase helped offset a decline in front-of-store sales—makeup, food and over-the-counter medicine—which fell 0.7%.

Retail pharmacy sales remained strong, with pharmacy sales and prescription volumes climbing 5.5% and 5.9%, respectively, on a same-store basis. CVS said an extra day from leap year aided pharmacy sales, countering the negative impact of recent generic drug introductions.

Over all, CVS reported a profit of $1.15 billion, or $1.04 a share, down from $1.22 billion, or $1.07 a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition-related costs, among other items, per-share profit rose to $1.18 from $1.14.

Revenue rose 19% to $43.22 billion. Analysts projected $1.16 on $43.00 billion in sales.

Still, the company also said it expects a second-quarter adjusted profit of $1.28 to $1.31 a share, below Wall Street’s expectations of $1.35. For the year, CVS backed its earnings view, still estimating adjusted earnings of between $5.73 and $5.88 a share.

Shares in the company, up 3.8% since the start of the year, were inactive during premarket trading.

Write to Lisa Beilfuss at lisa.beilfuss@wsj.com

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