CVS Health earnings top estimates as pharmacy sales get a lift from Covid testing, vaccines


People walk by a CVS Pharmacy store in the Manhattan borough of New York City.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

CVS Health’s fourth-quarter earnings beat Wall Street’s expectations as its pharmacy sales got a lift from providing Covid-19 testing and vaccines.

Shares of the company are up nearly 2% in premarket trading.

Here’s what the company reported for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with what analysts were expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.30, adjusted, vs. $1.24 expected
  • Revenue: $69.55 billion vs. $68.75 billion expected

The drugstore chain reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $975 million, or 75 cents per share, down from $1.74 billion, or $1.33 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, it earned $1.30 per share, outpacing the $1.24 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Revenue rose to $69.55 billion, from $66.89 billion a year prior. That’s higher than analysts’ expectations of $68.75 billion, according to Refinitiv.

Same-store sales grew 5.3% during the three-month period compared with the same time a year prior. They jumped by 7.5% in the pharmacy division, as prescription volume rose, but were down by 1.8% in the front of store, as customers skipped visits and did not need to buy as much flu and cold medication during the pandemic.

CVS offers Covid-19 testing at many of its stores. The company said it’s administered about 15 million tests nationwide. It’s also given more than 3 million Covid vaccines in over 40,000 long-term care facilities. The drugstore chain and its competitor, Walgreens, struck a deal with the federal government in October to provide the shots to staff and residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It began vaccinations at the facilities in December.

CVS is now taking on an expanded role in providing Covid vaccines at its stores. Last week, the federal government shipped doses directly to retail pharmacies’ stores — including CVS stores in 11 states.

CVS Chief Executive Karen Lynch said the drugstore chain will step up its focus on offering a wider range of health-care services, beyond just filling prescriptions.

“Our goal is to make health care more accessible, more affordable and simpler,” she said in a news release. “In order to do this, we will accelerate the pace of our progress through targeted investments in key areas that will drive our consumer-focused strategy.”

As of market close on Friday, CVS shares are up less than 1% over the past year. The company’s stock, which has a market value of $97.13 billion, touched a 52-week high of $77.23 in mid-January. It closed at $74.21 on Friday.

Read the full press release here.

This story is developing and will be updated.


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