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Expansion at Express Scripts

Zacks Equity Research

Express Scripts Holding Company (ESRX) recently announced that it has expanded its customer base through its newly rebranded Federal Pharmacy Services unit. Express Scripts, which had so far provided services to the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the 9.7 million beneficiaries under the DoD’s TRICARE healthcare scheme, aims to serve other federal agencies through this move.

We note that the TRICARE pharmacy program is managed by the TRICARE Management Activity (:TMA) of the DoD. The program encompasses active and retired military members and their families and others eligible for DoD medical care.

Express Scripts’ decade long association with the DoD has worked very well. The partnership apart from bringing down pharmacy costs has increased beneficiary satisfaction. Express Scripts stated in its press release that the creation of the new unit will not impact this decade long association. Express Scripts merely aims to expand its pharmacy benefit management services to federal employees and their families.

Express Scripts has been constantly working to upgrade its services. Last month, the company launched an innovative online tool, virtual coaching, to facilitate better understanding among patients of the disease affecting them and the mechanism of the resultant therapy.

The visual and audible information provided by the online tool to the patients helps in improving their understanding. The new online offering targets patients suffering from serious diseases such as hepatitis C, hemophilia, multiple sclerosis apart from autoimmune deficiencies.

Our Recommendation

We have an Outperform recommendation on Express Scripts. The stock carries a Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy rating) in the short run. Strong second quarter 2012 results, an upbeat guidance and the favorable resolution of its long-standing dispute with retail giant Walgreen (WAG), justify our bullish stance on Express Scripts.

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