Woonsocket’s CVS Caremark set to finish 2011 on a high noteDecember 30th, 2011 at 10:20 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Months of squabbling without resolution between Walgreen and pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts will put about 90 million prescriptions up for grabs next year, and CVS expects to swoop in and nab up to 23 million of them. Last week, CVS raised its dividend 30% and projected its profit will jump in 2012 even before accounting for any business it takes away from Walgreen.
The news boosted shares of CVS, Rhode Island’s biggest private company, above $40 a share for the first time since 2008. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sank $190 million into the company earlier this year. Goldman Sachs and Barclays project the shares could reach $44, with the latter picking CVS as one of its top seven retail stocks for 2012. A Seeking Alpha contributor declared CVS “an investor’s dream.”
Barron’s has been arguing this fall that the 2007 merger of CVS and Caremark Rx is finally bearing fruit after a rocky first few years of integration; an analyst with Cohen & Steers Capital Management told the magazine the company “is turning the corner.” Going forward, medical experts have high hopes for CVS’s MinuteClinics and its competitors, and the company is also pushing mobile purchases.
It’s not all roses – this month CVS also agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it defrauded customers including California’s enormous pension fund, and a number of investigations into its business practices are still under way. Nevertheless, 2012 looks like it could be a promising year for the Woonsocket company that’s #21 on the Fortune 500 and employs 5,800 Rhode Islanders, sixth-most of any organization in the state.
Update: And the news just gets better for CVS. “Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson said Friday chances are probably ‘slim to none’ that the drugstore operator will reach an agreement with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts before their current contract ends Saturday,” the AP reports.
• Related: 1.2 billion prescriptions, and more CVS by the numbers (Feb. 22)