Express Scripts

(ESRX)

posted strong first-quarter numbers and guided higher for 2005.

The St. Louis-based pharmacy benefit manager earned $85 million, or $1.14 a share, up from the year-ago $70 million, or 89 cents a share. Revenue rose to $3.84 billion from $3.63 billion a year earlier.

Express Scripts attributed the revenue rise to increased use of prescription drugs, drug price inflation and the acquisition of CuraScript. These were partly offset by increased use of lower-cost generic drugs and increased member co-payments to retail network pharmacies.

The company targeted full-year earnings of $4.60 to $4.75, which is above the $4.59 analyst estimate.

On Tuesday, Express Scripts fell $2.41 to $85.02.