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Caremark's Earnings Rise

The company cites a jump in mail-order prescriptions.



first-quarter profit rose, due in part to a jump in mail-order prescriptions.

Using a 40% effective tax rate, the company earned 24 cents a share in the quarter ended March 31, compared with 15 cents a share in the year-ago period. The reported EPS for the first quarter of 2002 was 24 cents, using a 7.5% effective tax rate, the company said. Analysts were expecting 23 cents a share.

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Net income was $63.01 million, compared with $59.2 million in the comparable quarter. Earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization were $126 million, up from $86.4 million a year ago. Revenue was $2.16 billion, compared with $1.61 billion in the year-ago quarter.

"Strong growth in revenue from our base business combined with our record new business wins for 2003 led to significant increases in our prescriptions processed and resulting revenue in the first quarter," said Mac Crawford, chief executive of the company. Mail-order prescriptions totaled 6.0 million, a 22% increase from the 4.9 million scripts reported in the first quarter of 2002.

In February, Caremark said 2003 revenue was expected to increase between 25% and 30%; revenue was $6.81 billion in 2002. Full-year earnings were expected to be in the range of $1.02 and $1.04 a share. The company said it now expects 2003 revenue and earnings to fall at the high end of that guidance, which will be largely in line with analysts' consensus estimate of $1.03 a share. The company earned $1.17 a share in 2002.

Shares of the Birmingham, Ala.-based pharmaceuticals services company were up 4.4% at $18.90 early Tuesday.