Express Scripts meets 3Q profit forecasts

Markets Associated Press

Express Scripts Holding Co. on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $722.9 million.

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The St. Louis-based company said it had net income of $1.15 per share. Earnings, adjusted for amortization costs and to extinguish debt, came to $1.74 per share.

The results matched Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of $1.74 per share.

The pharmacy benefit manager posted revenue of $25.41 billion in the period, falling short of Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $25.56 billion. Adjusted claims totaled 312.2 million, down 5 percent.

Companies like Express Scripts run prescription drug coverage for insurers, large employers and other customers. They process mail-order prescriptions, handle bills for prescriptions filled at retail pharmacies and make recommendations on drug coverage. They use their large purchasing power to negotiate on price.

For the current quarter ending in December, Express Scripts expects its per-share earnings to range from $1.84 to $1.90. Analysts surveyed by Zacks had forecast adjusted earnings per share of $1.85.

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For the full year, the company narrowed its expected profit to a range of $6.36 and $6.42 per share, compared with its previous range of $6.33 to $6.43 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect $6.36 per share, on average.

Separately, the company said in a regulatory filing that it has received a subpoena last month from the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts requesting information regarding relationships between pharmaceutical manufacturers, independent charitable foundations providing cost-sharing assistance to federal health care program beneficiaries, and specialty pharmacies. The company said it is cooperating with the inquiry.

Express Scripts shares have decreased 20 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased almost 5 percent. The stock closed Tuesday at $70.07, a fall of nearly 18 percent in the last 12 months. In after-hours trading, shares picked up 1 percent to $70.75.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on ESRX at http://www.zacks.com/ap/ESRX

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Keywords: Express Scripts, Earnings Report

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This story has been corrected to show that the company now expects to earn $6.36 to $6.42 per share, not $6.33 to $6.43 per share