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CVS Lifts First-Quarter Earnings Forecast After Beating Estimates

Paul Ausick

CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 earnings before markets opened on Tuesday. For the quarter, the pharmacy benefits management and retail sales firm posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.12 on revenues of $32.8 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.96 on revenues of $31.4 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $1.11 and $32.67 billion in revenues.

For the full year, CVS reported adjusted EPS of $4.00 on revenues of $126.76 billion, compared with 2012 EPS of $3.26 and revenues of $123.12 billion. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $3.96 and $126.65 billion in revenue.

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In 2014 the company expects to post adjusted EPS in the range of $4.36 to $4.50, which includes the effect of a $4 billion share buyback. For the first quarter, CVS forecasts EPS in a range of $1.03 to $1.06. Consensus estimates call for full-year EPS of $4.47 on revenues of $132.77 billion and first-quarter EPS of $0.98 on revenues of $32.06 billion.

The company's CEO said:

As expected, the quarter was somewhat atypical, largely due to the timing of Medicare Part D profits within the PBM [pharmacy benefits management] and the timing of break-open generics across the enterprise. Overall, the year 2013 produced strong growth in revenues, gross margin, operating margin and earnings across the enterprise.

Same-store pharmacy sales rose 6.8% year-over-year in the quarter, while front store [non-pharmacy] sales were down 1.9%. In its benefits management business, CVS's revenues rose 5.2% mainly due to drug cost inflation, new products, and new clients.

CVS announced last week that it would end cigarette sales in its stores by October of this year. The move will cost CVS about $2 billion against revenues of about $125 billion, although the company's CEO said that cost cuts will eliminate any damage to profits.

The company's shares were up 2.5% in premarket trading Tuesday, at $68.60 in a 52-week range of $50.21 to $71.99. The consensus target price for the shares was around $75.80 before this report.

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