CVS’ fourth quarter lands sales-side up

WOONSOCKET, R.I. —CVS Caremark may have closed the books on a fiscal 2009 that brimmed with a good deal of accomplishments, but the pharmacy healthcare provider has hit the ground running in 2010 as it enters several new markets and kicks off a string of health fairs for those living in underserved areas.

“While we reported another solid quarter this morning, rounding out 2009 ahead of our initial plan, we did accomplish a lot last year,” Tom Ryan, chairman, president and CEO, told analysts during the Feb. 8 conference call. “And while we were not happy with our overall [pharmacy benefit management] selling season, our enterprise-wide financial performance was very good.”

Aside from generating total revenues that rose 13% to a record $98.7 billion in 2009 and income from continuing operations that climbed nearly 11% to $3.7 billion, several highlights included the repositioning of its sales message to focus first on its PBM capabilities; continued growth of its Maintenance Choice program, which is now approaching more than 470 clients; and an increased investment in Generation Health to expand pharmacogenomic testing to its PBM clients.

Meanwhile, its MinuteClinic business, which now stands at 570 clinics in 56 markets, continues to offer new products and services. For example, it rolled out in the fourth quarter asthma monitoring screenings on a national basis and is piloting a diabetes monitoring service for patients already diagnosed with diabetes. A key focus going forward: adding protocol-driven monitoring services for such common chronic illnesses as hypertension and high cholesterol.

The bottom line is that, in 2009, CVS Caremark made good progress on strengthening its position as “the largest pharmacy healthcare provider in the nation with the broadest capabilities.”

But if the first few months of 2010 are any indication of how the coming fiscal year will play out, then CVS Caremark will, once again, deliver a string of milestones.

In January, the company entered the St. Louis market with the opening of four stores, with a fifth location slated to open in the fall, and the chain also opened its first store in the city of Memphis, Tenn., with more stores expected to open in Memphis later this year. Then in mid-February, the retailer officially opened its first two store locations in Puerto Rico—one in San Juan and one in Bayamón—with a total of nine stores slated to open on the island in 2010.

Meanwhile, the company recently kicked off its “A Su Salud” (To Your Health) health fairs for 2010, and has 800 events scheduled for the year in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno, Calif.; Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth and Corpus Christi, Texas; and Miami.

In 2009, more than 195,000 people were screened during the events, with CVS/pharmacy providing free and lowcost medical screenings and services valued at $49 million through the A Su Salud program and direct referrals from the events.

There’s no doubt that CVS Caremark has kicked off the year with a bang, and the momentum is unlikely to subside as the healthcare battle continues and patients, employers and third-party payers increasingly look for ways to curb costs and embrace innovative healthcare solutions.

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