COVID-19 vaccines, testing help CVS Health beat Q2 forecasts

Customers returned to CVS Health stores to fill prescriptions and get COVID-19 tests and vaccines, helping to push the health care giant past Wall Street’s second-quarter expectations.

The drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager raised its 2021 forecast after a quarter that brought both growth in pharmacy claims but also a big drop in income for its Aetna health insurance business.

CVS Health said today that its overall net income slipped 6% in its latest quarter to $2.78 billion compared to last year, when the insurance business soared as patients postponed care at the start of the pandemic.

But adjusted earnings totaled $2.42 per share in the quarter that ended June 30.

That topped the average analyst expectation of $2.07 per share, according to FactSet.

Total revenue jumped 11% to $72.62 billion, also surpassing analyst 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 in addition to selling insurance.

The company said it now expects adjusted earnings to range between $7.70 and $7.80 per share. That’s up from its previous forecast for $7.56 to $7.68 per share and above analyst expectations.

For the full year, analysts expect on average earnings of $7.67 per share, according to FactSet.

The company also said it was raising its minimum pay for all employees earning hourly wages up to at least $15 an hour by next July. Employees currently make a minimum of $11 an hour, but that will climb to $13 next month.

Shares of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health Corp. slipped 77 cents to $83.23 in premarket trading.