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Stock Analyst Update

CVS Maintains 2020 Bottom-Line Outlook Despite COVID-19

We view shares of this narrow-moat firm as significantly undervalued.

Narrow-moat CVS Health (CVS) turned in first-quarter operating results that significantly beat expectations, due to a surge of activity in its stores and PBM related to shelter-in-place orders that began in mid-March. Joining the other four managed care organizations that we cover, CVS management has maintained its 2020 EPS guidance, suggesting the pullback in its retail stores, in particular, following initial stocking activities in March should not trip up the rest of 2020. We are maintaining our fair value estimate for CVS and still view shares as significantly undervalued.

In the quarter, revenue reached $66.8 billion (8% growth), above Capital IQ consensus of $64.1 billion, and adjusted earnings per share hit $1.91 (18% growth), above consensus of $1.63. Management estimates that COVID-19 positively influenced its adjusted EPS by $0.10 in the quarter. By segment, the PBM business delivered 12% growth in claims processed to 541 million in the quarter, including about 125 basis points of benefit from COVID-19, and adjusted operating income grew 25% to $1.2 billion. The retail/long-term care segment grew 8% year over year to $22.7 billion in sales, and adjusted operating income grew 27% to $1.9 billion in the quarter, which included a surge related to COVID-19 on prescription volume (up 200 basis points on COVID-19) and front of store sales (up 650 basis points on COVID-19). In health insurance, CVS grew medical membership 2% sequentially to 23.5 million on strength in government plans. 

With these strong first-quarter results, management was able to maintain its bottom-line guidance for 2020, despite a pullback in momentum in April after initial stocking activities in March. For example, front of store sales were down 11% year over year in April, after being up 19% in March. On the bottom line though, the firm still expects EPS of $7.04-$7.17 and operating cash flow of $10.5 billion-$11.0 billion in 2020, and our estimates remain roughly in line with that outlook.

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Julie Utterback does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.