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CVS Health Tops Q4 Earnings Forecast, Gives Tepid 2020 Guidance

CVS Health sees 2020 earnings in the range of $7.04 to $7.14 per share, just shy of Wall Street forecasts.

CVS Health Corp.  (CVS)  posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Wednesday but forecast 2020 profits that fell modestly shy of Wall Street forecasts.

CVS said adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the three months ending in December were pegged at $1.73 per share, down 19.1% from the same period last year but 5 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, CVS said, 22.9% to $66.9 billion, thanks in part to the addition of Aetna sales to the group's top line and again topping analysts' estimate of a $63.95 billion tally.

Looking into the 2020 financial year, CVS said it sees adjusted earnings in the region of $7.04 to $7.14 per share, compared to a Refintiv forecast of $7.15 per share, and cash flow from operations in the range of $10.5 billion to $11 billion.

 "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," said CEO Larry Melo. "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."

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"We are confident that we're on the right path to delivering significant value for all our stakeholders, which is a testament to the efforts of the nearly 300,000 CVS Health employees who work tirelessly to deliver these results while staying true to our purpose of helping people on their path to better health," he added.

CVS shares were marked 1.1%  lower in mid-day trading following the earnings release to change hands at $73.05 each, a move that would trim the stock's six-month gain to around 26%

CVS said same store sales were up 3.2% from last year, while pharmacy same store sales rose by 4.1%.

Pharmacy Services revenues rose 6.2% to $37.07 billion, CVS said, "primarily due to brand inflation as well as increased total pharmacy claims volume, partially offset by continued price compression and an increased generic dispensing rate." 

Retail sales rose 2.5% to $22.58 billion while the group's healthcare benefits division saw sales surge to $17.15 billion as it added Aetna's operations to its legacy business.