CVS Health Kicks the Tobacco Habit and Will Outperform Walgreen

 NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors should buy shares of CVS Health (CVS) instead of Walgreen (WAG) , because of CVS' strategy of focusing on providing health care services. 

The company is no longer just a drugstore chain; it has expanded its "minute clinic" to more than 900 locations in 29 states. The move was announced on Sept. 3, when the company stopped selling tobacco products at its 7,700 stores, a month ahead of schedule. CVS Health is on a path to gain the reputation of treating patients and helping smokers quit the habit.


Shares of Walgreen stalled after they set an all-time intraday high at $76.39 on June 19. Since then, it's been a choppy ride for this stock. Investors were expecting that the company would relocate to Switzerland in a tax-inversion strategy after completing its acquisition of Alliance Boots, a Swiss company that operates health and beauty stores in Europe.

But on Aug. 5, Walgreen announced it would keep its headquarters in the U.S. On Aug. 6, the stock gapped below its 200-day simple moving average, trading as low as $57.75 that day.

Walgreen ($60.18) will report its quarterly results before the opening bell on Tuesday, and analysts expect the drugstore giant to post earnings of 75 cents per share. If you remain an investor in this stock, the upside on a positive reaction should be limited to the 200-day SMA, which is now at $65.59.

If you visit your local CVS/pharmacy, you may be impressed by the "minute clinic." The cllinics are at the back of stores, next to the in-store pharmacies. There's seating in the waiting area and private rooms for patients. In between is a convenient and easy-to-use data entry terminal. Fill out the online forms, and you are ready to see a nurse practitioner.

A nurse practitioner will diagnose, treat and write prescriptions when appropriate. The service is available during regular business hours every day. On weekends and evenings, when your doctor's office is closed, patients can use a CVS "minute clinic" rather than go to a crowded hospital emergency room for non-severe health issues.

Let's take a look at the technical health of CVS Health on its daily chart.

Courtesy of MetaStock Xenith

At the lower left, shares of CVS Health held its 200-day simple moving average on Oct. 4, 2013. The stock has been tracking the rise of its 50-day SMA since Jan. 24.

After setting an all-time intraday high at $82.57 on Sept. 16, the stock dipped with the market. The stock stays healthy if weakness holds the 50-day SMA at $79.30; otherwise, there is risk to the 200-day SMA at $74.65.

CVS has a gain of 12% year-to-date topping the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which is up 7.3%. Shares of Walgreen lag both, with a year-to-date gain of 4.8%.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.


TheStreet Ratings team rates CVS HEALTH CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate CVS HEALTH CORP (CVS) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, increase in net income and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: CVS Ratings Report

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