Oct 24 (Reuters) - Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co on Thursday reported higher net earnings for the third quarter, but said claims volume declined 9 percent.
The company's shares, which closed at $63.74, were down 2.4 percent 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 investors may have been disappointed with the drop in claims, but noted said the decline was anticipated due to new competition.
For the third quarter, Express Scripts reported net earnings of $438.1 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $395.9 million, 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 average estimate of $25 billion. The company said cashflow for the full year would range between $4 billion and $4.5 billion, down from a 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 profit outlook. It now expects adjusted 2013 earnings of $4.30 to $4.34 per share, up from its prior outlook of $4.26 to $4.34 per share.
Express Scripts and other pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, administer prescription drug benefits for employers and health plans and also run large mail order pharmacies.