Third-quarter earnings at CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS – $63.45) rose 24% on revenue growth in its pharmacy business, with an added boost from a legal-settlement-related gain. Excluding the $72 million gain, acquisition-related impacts and other items, adjusted earnings were up at $1.05 from 85 cents in the 2012 quarter. Revenue increased 5.8% to $32 billion, above analysts’ estimates of $31.53 billion. Revenue in its pharmacy-services business grew a healthy 7.8% to $19.5 billion. Retail pharmacy same-store sales improved 5.7% on stronger prescription volume, partly offset by impacts from generic introductions. Same-store sales in the front of the store declined 1% on softer customer traffic. The drugstore operator and pharmacy-benefit manager raised its full-year 2013 per-share earnings estimate to $3.94 to $3.97 from its previous estimate of $3.90 to $ 3.96. The company is in an enviable market position with an aging population and more people covered by insured pharmacy benefits. Dividends, although modest, have increased over 21% in the past five years and strong cash flow should enhance future payouts and share buybacks. At a very reasonable 14 times 2014 earnings estimates of $4.40 and the ongoing growth I envision over the next few years, the shares are a formidable holding in a conservative portfolio.