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CVS Health beats on earnings, gets lift from Covid vaccines and prescription volumes

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A customer walks towards the entrance of a CVS Health Corp. store in downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017.

Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

CVS Health on Wednesday beat expectations for fiscal third-quarter earnings as the company got a boost from filling more prescriptions and giving more Covid-19 vaccines.

The drugstore chain and health insurer raised its forecast for the year, saying it expects adjusted earnings per share of $7.90 to $8.00, from $7.70 to $7.80. Before adjustments, however, that guidance was revised downward to between $6.13 to $6.23 from $6.35 to $6.45 previously.

Shares of the company fell less than 1% in premarket trading.

Here’s what the company reported for the three-month period ended Sept. 30, compared with what analysts were expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

Earnings per share: $1.97 adjusted vs. $1.78 expectedRevenue: $73.79 billion vs. $70.49 billion expected

CVS reported third-quarter net income of $1.59 billion, or $1.20 per share, down from $1.22 billion, or 93 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it earned $1.97 per share, more than the $1.78 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Total revenues for the three-month period jumped by about 10% to $73.79 billion from $67.06 billion a year earlier, outpacing expectations of $70.49 billion.

CVS sales got a lift as consumers came to stores for Covid-19 tests and vaccines. The company said it administered more than 8 million tests and more than 11 million shots during the three-month period. That’s a slight drop from the previous quarter, when it gave 17 million vaccines — but its testing increased from more than 6 million.

Drugstore rival Walgreens Boots Alliance also benefited from Covid-19 vaccines, particularly as many employers mandated the shots. The company said in mid-October that it administered 13.5 million in its most recent quarter, which was nearly double what it had expected.

Both companies plan to capitalize on a new wave of shots: Booster vaccines for adults and first-time doses for children ages 5 to 11.

CVS’ pharmacy volumes have also normalized compared to a year ago, as people go to the doctor office more regularly and get new prescriptions. Total pharmacy claims processed increased 5.3% on a 30-day equivalent basis during the quarter versus the year-ago period, when Covid vaccines were excluded. That rose to nearly 7% when including vaccines.

The company — which owns health insurer Aetna — has also been weaving together its different health-care offerings, such as encouraging health insurance members to visit MinuteClinics inside of CVS drugstores for care. It said it recently launched Aetna Virtual Primary Care, which allows people to visit with a doctor round-the-clock.

As of Tuesday’s close, shares of CVS were up about 33% this year. Shares touched a 52-week high on Tuesday, but closed at $91.15. The company’s market value is $120.28 billion.

Read the company’s press release here.

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