CVS Health profit spikes as coronavirus drives sales surge

Same-store sales jumped 9%

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CVS Health Corp.’s first-quarter profit spiked 41 percent from a year ago as same-store sales surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based integrated pharmacy health care provider earned $2.01 billion, or $1.53 a share, as revenue increased 8.3 percent to $66.8 billion. Adjusted earnings were $1.91 per share, easily beating the $1.63 that analysts surveyed by Refintiv were expecting.

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“We have a presence in communities across the country and interact with one in three Americans every year,” CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement. “We have a leading consumer brand with a diversified portfolio of essential health care businesses.”

Total sales at stores open at least a year rose 9 percent while pharmacy revenue jumped 9.3 percent and so-called front store sales -- which include over-the-counter medications and general merchandise such as candy and bath soap -- climbed 8 percent.

COVID-19, which has infected 1.2 million Americans, caused customers to stock up on 90-day prescriptions and refill their medications in preparation for "stay-at-home" orders. As a result, the number of prescriptions filled rose 8.2 percent from the year prior.

CVS waived copays for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for all insured customers.

The company held its full-year 2020 earnings target at $7.04 to $7.17 despite uncertainty about how the coronavirus will affect its business.

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CVS shares dropped 18 percent this year through Monday, worse than the S&P 500's 11 percent drop.