Express Scripts

(ESRX)

beat Wall Street's fourth-quarter estimates by a penny and said it expects earnings to increase by 25% to 30% in 2001.

Excluding charges, earnings rose to $26 million, or 66 cents a diluted share, from $19.6 million, or 50 cents a share, last year. According to

First Call/Thomson Financial

, analysts expected Express Scripts to earn 65 cents a share in the latest quarter.

The pharmacy benefit management company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $1.9 billion, up from $1.3 billion in the year-ago period. Express Scripts, which is based in St. Louis, now has about 43.5 million members, a 13% increase from the 38.5 million members as of Jan. 1, 2000.

The company projected that earnings in 2001 could increase 25% to 30% from $2.41 a share for the year 2000, which would imply a profit of $3.01 to $3.13 a share. Analysts expect the company to earn $3.04 a share in 2001.