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When it comes to CVS Caremark PBM ballgame, DSN knows the score

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — The fact that Wall Street is reversing its position on a breakup of CVS Caremark is important because — while we may hate to toot our own horn, we are going to do it anyway — DSN was right.

(THE NEWS: Wall Street analysts recant prediction of CVS Caremark split. For the full story, click here)

When analysts began with their sky-is-falling predictions back in 2009 and Caremark came off a tricky PBM selling season, DSN editor-in-chief Rob Eder suggested in November 2009 that those people just don’t know how the game was scored.

"If you judge CVS Caremark too harshly based solely on the handful of PBM contracts it lost in the short-term, as many investors did in the wake of the company’s Nov. 5 earnings call, then you might not even really understand how this game is scored. Kind of like trying to score a baseball game using tennis’ wacky ‘Love-15-30-40-Game’ point system," Eder wrote in his column "Understanding how the game is scored," which ran in the Nov. 15, 2009, issue of Drug Store News.

Eder went on the say, "If you have been watching this game as closely as I have, you know there’s still plenty of time on the clock for CVS Caremark to turn things around in time for the 2010 PBM selling season. And if it does, it’s going to be a whole new ballgame in 2011."

Well, here we are two years later and CVS has turned the PBM business from a decline in operating profit in the first half of 2011 to growth in the back half.

It’s a whole new ballgame indeed.

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Wall Street analysts recant prediction of CVS Caremark split

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Wall Street calls for the breakup of CVS Caremark? Nope, not so fast.

About a year after analysts called for the split of CVS Caremark’s PBM business, they now are changing their tune on the heels of the company’s 2011 Analyst Day presentation on Dec. 20.

In fact, shares of CVS Caremark ended 2011 up 17% and, as Dow Jones Newswires reported, is trading at a roughly 3-and-a-half-year high.

During the company’s recent Analyst Day presentation, executives outlined a strong growth outlook for 2012 and also announced the approval of an increase in quarterly dividend of roughly 30%. For the pharmacy services segment, operating profit is expected to increase by 11% to 15%.

Last year, president and CEO Larry Merlo defied calls for a CVS Caremark breakup amid the PBM’s less-than-favorable performance. But, as the retailer has demonstrated, a lot can change in a year.

In a recent interview with Dow Jones, EVP and CFO Dave Denton was quoted as saying that CVS turned the PBM business from a decline in operating profit in the first half of 2011 to growth in the back half, with further gains expected this year.

Following the Analyst Day presentation, several analysts expressed their optimism and faith in the integrated model.

"The 2013 selling season is the most promising one since CVS acquired Caremark. This reflects the powerful combination of a business model that has come into its own — with 110 million retail interventions lowering costs for payers — just as its largest competitors have meaningful uncertainties in their business," stated Guggenheim analyst John Heinbockel in a research note. "Not only should CVS be able to retain the vast majority of its $16 billion book up for renewal in 2012 at fairly attractive margins but it could well steal billions of dollars in business from its competitors, including Medco and Express Scripts."

Morgan Stanley analyst Mark Wiltamuth stated in a research note, "Five years after its merger with Caremark, CVS is hitting its stride. [The] PBM segment is poised for double-digit operating growth in 2012 and for margin expansion in 2013. [Its] pharmacy strategy is supported by [the] PBM reach providing CVS with a competitive advantage, compared with its retail peers."

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Thinkway Toys to create ‘Despicable Me 2’ toys

BY Allison Cerra

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Thinkway Toys will launch a new line of toys based on the follow-up animated film to "Despicable Me," Universal Partnerships and Licensing and Illumination Entertainment announced.

Thinkway Toys was granted a master global toy license for the release of animated film, "Despicable Me 2," and will develop a wide variety of toys featuring the minions and other key characters, including interactive toys, figures, plush, dolls, playsets, vehicles, role play and novelty items, UP&L and Illumination Entertainment said.

"Our team is ecstatic to create an all new line of toys for ‘Despicable Me 2.’   The characters are endearing, filled with humor and adventure and we can’t wait to include these elements into the toy line," Thinkway Toys CEO Albert Chan said.

"Despicable Me 2" is slated for release on July 3, 2013.

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