CVS Health's PBM Business Delivers Solid Q4 Results

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Life has been good for CVS Health investors. Shares of the pharmacy retailer and pharmacy benefits manager are up around 50% over the last 12 months. CVS has also beat earnings estimates for the last two quarters.

The company reported its latest earnings results before the market opened on Tuesday. Shares were up around 3% before falling in before-hours trading. Here are the highlights from CVS Health's announcement.

By the numbers
For the fourth quarter of 2014, CVS Health reported net revenue of $37.1 billion. That's a 12.9% jump over revenue for the same period in 2013 and set the all-time record level for the company. It also handily beat the consensus analyst expectation of $36.08 billion.

CVS Health announced GAAP fourth-quarter earnings of $1.3 billion, or $1.14 per diluted share, up 4.5% from the same quarter in the prior year. Adjusted earnings came in at $1.21 per share -- topping the average analysts' estimate of $1.20 per share.

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For the full year 2014, the company reported net revenue of $139.4 billion, a 9.9% year-over-year increase and another record level. Adjusted earnings per share for 2014 were $4.22 with GAAP earnings per diluted share of $3.96. Both figures reflected a $0.27 per share loss from early retirement of debt.

Behind the numbers
CVS generated its strong revenue primarily on the back of its Pharmacy Services Segment. Revenue for the segment shot up 21.7% year-over-year during the fourth quarter to $23.9 billion, helped by growth in specialty pharmacy and increased pharmacy network claim volume.

Specialty pharmacy revenue grew in part due to CVS Health's acquisition of Coram in early 2014. Pharmacy network claims volume received boosts from new business and growth in Managed Medicaid.

Meanwhile, CVS Health's Retail Pharmacy Segment grew at a much slower pace. Revenue for the segment increased 2.9% year-over-year to $17.7 billion.

Several factors held retail pharmacy growth back. Customer traffic was down during the fourth quarter. Recent introductions of generic drugs lowered revenue for the segment. CVS Health's transition of specialty prescriptions from its retail pharmacies to the Pharmacy Services Segment made an impact.

The biggest culprit, however, stemmed from the company's decision to remove tobacco products from its stores. However, CVS Health's performance in its pharmacy benefits management business more than made up for any downside from this move.

Looking ahead
CVS Health confirmed its previous guidance for both first quarter of 2015 and full-year 2015. It expects first-quarter adjusted earnings per share between $1.06 and $1.09. The consensus analyst estimate is at the top end of that range.

For full-year 2015, the company projects adjusted earnings per share between $5.05 and $5.19. The average analysts' estimate is $5.15 per share.

The company certainly appears to be on the right track, judging from its recent financial performance. Healthcare reform combined with an aging U.S. population give CVS Health two major growth drivers headed into 2015. While there could be a few bumps along the way, shareholders seem to have plenty of reason to suspect that life will continue to be good.

The article CVS Health's PBM Business Delivers Solid Q4 Results originally appeared on Fool.com.

Keith Speights has no position in CVS Health but is glad for the company that its shares have been smoking hot despite dumping tobacco products from its stores. The Motley Fool recommends CVS Health. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.