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CVS Snags Walgreens Scripts, Outlook Healthy After Strong Profit


Drug store chain operator CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) reported Wednesday a profit for the first quarter that increased from last year, primarily benefiting from the continuing impasse between industry peers, Walgreens (WAG) and Express Scripts (ESRX).

Same store sales for the retail pharmacy also rose 8.4 percent over last year. Both adjusted net earnings per share from continuing operations and quarterly revenues topped analysts' expectations.

The company also provided earnings guidance for the second quarter, above Street view, and raised its earnings forecast for the full-year 2012, citing the solid year-to-date performance.

"We posted an outstanding first quarter with strong results across the board. Results in both our retail and PBM segments came in at the high end of our guidance, while EPS exceeded expectations," President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based company reported net earnings of $776 million or $0.59 per share for the first quarter, higher than $713 million or $0.52 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding the one-time item, adjusted net earnings from continuing operations for the quarter increased to $849 million or $0.65 per share from $775 million or $0.57 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 20 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.63 per share for the first quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Net revenues for the quarter increased 19.9 percent to $30.80 billion from $25.88 billion in the same quarter last year, and topped eighteen Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $30.31 billion by a whisker.

Revenues for the retail pharmacy segment increased 9.9 percent to $16.0 billion from the year-ago quarter, and same store sales rose 8.4 percent over last year. Pharmacy same store sales rose 9.8 percent.

The company noted, "Our retail team has done an outstanding job capitalizing on the unprecedented opportunity for share gains afforded to us by the impasse between two of our industry peers."

Pharmacy services segment revenues grew 32.3 percent to $18.3 billion from the prior-year quarter.

During the first quarter, CVS opened 32 new retail drugstores and closed seven retail drugstores and one onsite pharmacy. In addition, the company relocated 40 retail drugstores.

Looking ahead to the second quarter, the company expects adjusted earnings in a range of $0.78 to $0.80 per share. Analysts expect earnings of $0.74 per share for the quarter.

For fiscal 2012, the company raised its adjusted earnings from continuing operations guidance to a range of $3.23 to $3.33 per share from the prior outlook in the range of $3.18 to $3.28. Street is currently looking for full-year 2012 earnings of $3.27 per share.

CVC closed Tuesday's regular trading session at $44.71, up $0.11 on a volume of 7.76 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $31.20 to $45.88.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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