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CVS Health on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street’s expectations, boosted by higher sales in its pharmacy benefit management business.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted EPS: $1.73 per share vs. $1.68 per share
  • Revenue: $66.9 billion vs. $63.97 billion expected

“As we work to transform the way health care is delivered to millions of Americans, we are driving continued business performance and generating positive momentum across the enterprise,” CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement. “As a result of the significant progress we made in 2019, and meeting or exceeding our expectations for the year, we raised our outlook for 2020.”

The drugstore chain expects 2020 earnings between $7.04 per share and $7.17 per share.

On an unadjusted basis, CVS earned $1.75 billion, or $1.33 a share, during the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $419 million, or a loss of 37 cents a share, during the same quarter in 2018. Operating income increased by 1.3% in the fourth quarter to $3.8 billion. Adjusted earnings per share fell to $1.73 from $2.14. Revenue rose 23% to $66.9 billion from $54.4 billion.

The stock was up more than 1% in premarket trading after initially falling about 1%.

CVS’s health benefits business more than doubled in revenue from $6.24 billion during the last three months of 2018 to $17.15 billion during the fourth quarter, thanks largely to its November 2018 acquisition of Aetna.

Same-store sales rose 3.2% during the quarter, with sales in its pharmacy unit up 4.1%, CVS reported. The company’s pharmacy unit reported revenue of $37 billion during the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with $34 billion last year. It’s retail segment, which includes general merchandise and prescription refills, reported revenue of $22.5 billion, slightly above what it made last year.

Shares of CVS Health are down half a percent so far this year, but have risen more than 13% over the last 12 months. Last year, the drugstore chain laid out its plan for growth over the next few years as it integrates Aetna, the health insurer it acquired for $70 billion.

A federal judge signed off on CVS’ merger with the health insurer in September, an acquisition that’s starting to show some strain. Aetna’s former CEO, Mark Bertolini, told The Wall Street Journal that he was being pushed off of the CVS board. The company announced his departure Feb. 3, saying it was reducing the size of the board.



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