Express Scripts Claims Drop

The stock slides after an adjusted claims count setback.
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Express Scripts

(ESRX)

slumped 4% after first-quarter cash flow was hit by a drop in claims and hefty executive pay.

The St. Louis-based pharmacy benefit manager made $105 million, or 70 cents a share, for the quarter ended March 31. That's up from the year-ago $85 million, or 57 cents a share. Revenue rose to $4.44 billion from $3.84 billion a year earlier.

"Our first quarter results reflect our continued focus on making the use of prescription drugs safer and more affordable for our clients and their members," stated CEO George Paz. "We are also focused on helping our clients take advantage of the wave of generic drugs arriving over the next few years, and our formulary changes for 2006 are successfully moving market share to generics and lower-cost brands. Our business model is built around the alignment of interests, and the more successful we are in helping clients and patients save on prescription drugs, the better we perform."

Home delivery prescriptions rose 6% to 10.3 million during the quarter. CuraScript's specialty pharmacy and distribution revenues jumped 286% to $876.6 million, reflecting the acquisition of Priority and CuraScript's continued success in capturing an increased share of the specialty drug spend in the Express Scripts' book of business.

Retail network claims processed in the first quarter dropped 8% to 102.4 million, "reflecting the previously disclosed loss of retail claims due to a few client-specific situations." As a result, total adjusted claims were 134.9 million, a 5% decrease from last year.

Cash flow from operations was $41 million, Express Scripts said. The company said $50 million of positive cash flow occurred in the fourth quarter of 2005 instead of the first quarter of 2006, because of "the unique timing of collections and disbursements surrounding the end of 2005."

Cash flows were additionally reduced "due to the working capital impact from lower adjusted claims and a higher payout of management incentive compensation due to very positive 2005 financial results," the company said. "Express Scripts still expects that cash flow from operations will be in the $625 to $700 million range for 2006."

The company said it expects to make $3.10 to $3.22 for the year, in line with the $3.18 Thomson estimate.

Late Wednesday, Express Scripts fell $4.06 to $80.20.