CVS surpasses third-quarter expectations and raises 2021 forecast

Company expects 2021 adjusted earnings to be between $7.90 and $8 per share

CVS Health delivered a better-than-expected third quarter and raised its 2021 forecast again as more people returned to its drugstores for prescriptions or COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The company said Wednesday it now expects 2021 adjusted earnings per share to range from $7.90 to $8. 

That’s nearly a 3% hike at the midpoint of that range from the forecast it made in August, when some analysts criticized the company for a conservative guidance increase compared to how soundly the company beat expectations in the second quarter. 

American retail and health care company CVS Pharmacy's logo at one of its stores. CVS Health's third-quarter expectations were better than anticipated. (Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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The latest forecast is greater than the annual per-share earnings of $7.79 that Wall Street has been projecting, according to a survey by FactSet. 

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In the third quarter, CVS Health posted adjusted earnings of $1.97 per share. That's 10% higher than the average analyst forecast of $1.79 per share. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
CVS CVS HEALTH CORP. 90.87 +0.88 +0.98%

The company's total revenue grew 10% to $73.8 billion, also surpassing expectations. 

CVS Health operates one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains with nearly 10,000 retail locations. It also runs prescription drug plans for big clients like insurers and employers through a large pharmacy benefit management business, and it sells health insurance. 

Revenue from the company's drugstores jumped 10% compared to last year's quarter, when the pandemic was still keeping customers away from its stores. The chain delivered more than 11 million COVID-19 vaccines in the quarter, a drop from the 17 million it delivered in the previous quarter. 

Luanne Boiko receives an influenza vaccination from nurse practitioner Leslie Suarez at the CVS Pharmacy store's MinuteClinic in October 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images / Getty Images)

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But analysts expected that after the initial rush to get vaccines when eligibility expanded last spring. Vaccination rates could begin climbing again due to booster shots and the recent decision to allow children to receive them. 

Revenue from CVS Health's pharmacy benefits management segment grew 9% to $39.05 billion.