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CVS Health (CVS) Q4 Earnings Top Estimates but Decline Y/Y

By Zacks Investment ResearchStock MarketsFeb 15, 2021 10:40PM ET
CVS Health (CVS) Q4 Earnings Top Estimates but Decline Y/Y
By Zacks Investment Research   |  Feb 15, 2021 10:40PM ET
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CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) Corporation's CVS fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.30 declined 24.9% year over year but exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 4.8%. The adjusted EPS figure takes into account certain asset amortization costs, acquisition-related integration costs and receipt of fully reserved ACA risk corridor receivable along with other adjustments.

On a reported basis, the company’s earnings of 75 cents per share plunged 43.6% year over year.

Full-year adjusted EPS was $7.50, up 5.9% from the year-ago period. This also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.9%.

Total revenues in the fourth quarter rose 3.9% year over year to $69.55 billion. The top line also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.3%. Full-year 2020 total revenues were $268.71 billion, a 4.6% improvement from 2019. It also exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a close margin of 0.3%.

Quarter in Detail

Pharmacy Services revenues were down 1.9% to $36.36 billion in the reported quarter. Continued price compression and changes in net new business mix were partially offset by growth in specialty pharmacy and brand inflation.

Total pharmacy claims processed rose 0.7% on a 30-day equivalent basis, attributable to strong net new business.

Revenues from CVS Health’s Retail/LTC were up 6.6% year over year to $24.06 billion. In the quarter, increased prescription volume, COVID-19 diagnostic testing and brand inflation were partially offset by continued reimbursement pressure and the impact of recent generic introductions.

Front store revenues fell 1.6% year over year due to decreased customer traffic and reduced volume in cough and cold product sales primarily as a result of the pandemic. Prescription volume rose 2% on a 30-day equivalent basis on continued adoption of patient care programs. This was partially offset by reduced new therapy prescriptions like lower seasonal flu prescriptions as a result of the pandemic as well as decreased long-term care prescription volume.

Within Health Care Benefits segment, the company registered revenues worth $19.10 billion in the fourth quarter, up 11.4% year over year. The improvement was primarily driven by membership growth in the Health Care Benefits segment's government products and favorable impact of the reinstatement of the HIF (Health Insurer Fee) for 2020 and the receipt of $313 million under the ACA's risk corridor program. This was partially offset by the divestitures of Aetna’s standalone Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Workers Compensation business, membership declines in the segment’s commercial products and planned COVID- related investments.


Gross profit improved 9.2% to $27.1 billion. Gross margin expanded 185.3 basis points (bps) to 38.9%. Without considering benefit cost, adjusted operating margin in the quarter under review grew 123 bps to $25.4 billion on a 9.3% rise in adjusted operating profit to $17.67 billion.

2021 Outlook

CVS Health provided its 2021 adjusted EPS and cash flow guidance.

Adjusted EPS is expected in the band of $7.39-$7.55. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings is pegged at $7.53.

Full-year operating cash flow is expected in the range of $12 billion-$12.50 billion.

Our Take

CVS Health fourth-quarter earnings and revenues surpassed the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate. However, the year-over-year decline in adjusted EPS was concerning. The COVID-19 pandemic affected fourth-quarter revenues in the Pharmacy Services segments as new therapy prescriptions got reduced due to lower provider visits. However, the year-over-year Retail/LTC revenue rise was primarily driven by increased prescription volume and higher front store revenues. Increased guidance amid the pandemic scenario is another positive.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

CVS Health currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader medical space are Hologic (NASDAQ:HOLX), Inc. HOLX, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) ABT and IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. IDXX.

Hologic reported first-quarter fiscal 2021 adjusted EPS of $2.86, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 33.6%. The company currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Abbott reported fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted EPS of $1.45, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 6.6%. Fourth-quarter worldwide sales of $10.7 billion outpaced the consensus mark by 7.9%. The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

IDEXX reported fourth-quarter 2020 adjusted EPS of $2.01, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 40.6%. Revenues of $720.9 million beat the consensus mark by 5.8%. The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #2

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CVS Health (CVS) Q4 Earnings Top Estimates but Decline Y/Y

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CVS Health (CVS) Q4 Earnings Top Estimates but Decline Y/Y

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