Express Scripts 3rd quarter profit rises, shares dip


Oct 24 (Reuters) - Pharmacy benefit manager Express ScriptsHolding Co on Thursday reported higher net earnings forthe third quarter, but said claims volume declined 9 percent.

The company's shares, which closed at $63.74, were down 2.4percent at $62.20 in after-hours trade on the Nasdaq exchange.

"They had a pretty good quarter ... results were in line,"said Morningstar analyst Vishnu Lekra. He said some investorsmay have been disappointed with the drop in claims, but notedsaid the decline was anticipated due to new competition.

For the third quarter, Express Scripts reported net earningsof $438.1 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $395.9million, or 47 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.07 a share,just below analysts' average projections of $1.08 a share,according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue totaled $25.9 billion, just ahead of the averageestimate of $25 billion. The company said cashflow for the fullyear would range between $4 billion and $4.5 billion, down froma previous estimate of $4.5 billion to $5 billion.

Citing its year-to-date performance and reduced tax rate, Express Scripts raised the lower end of its full-year profitoutlook. It now expects adjusted 2013 earnings of $4.30 to $4.34per share, up from its prior outlook of $4.26 to $4.34 pershare.

Express Scripts and other pharmacy benefit managers, orPBMs, administer prescription drug benefits for employers andhealth plans and also run large mail order pharmacies.

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