CVS Offers Better Outlook, Boosts Dividend
Pharmacy retailer and benefits manager, CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS – $97.13) raised the low-end of its 2016 earnings forecast, allaying investor concerns after it had previously offered a weak outlook. The company also boosted its quarterly dividend by 21% to $0.425 a share, yielding 1.8% at current levels. CVS now expects adjusted earnings of $5.73 to $5.88 a share for the year ending December, 2016, vs. a consensus estimate for this year of $5.17. In October, it had pegged the low-end of the range at $5.68, highlighting concerns that its margins could continue to suffer from lower reimbursement rates for dispensing medications. The company also reported that it has concluded its $1.9 billion acquisition of Target’s pharmacy and clinic businesses, consisting of 1,672 pharmacies across 47 states and 79 Target clinic locations. And the recent acquisition of Omnicare further strengthens CVS’ specialty business, giving it access to the faster growing long-term care market and provides for well-needed diversification. The shares, especially when viewed on a risk adjusted basis, remain a core conservative holding.