CVS Stock Slump Despite Aetna Catalyst

CVS Health (CVS) wasn't immune from the market declines that were inflicted by the COVID-19 downturn. Despite being in the traditional defensive healthcare space and confined to domestic operations, the stock has not been able to break out and participate in the broader raging bull market post-CVOID-19 lows. The combination of CVS Health (CVS) and Aetna was proving to be a success after initial skepticism by investors. CVS even posted a string of better than expected quarters in part attributable to the Aetna acquisition. CVS is generating large amounts of free cash flow, paying down debt, and returning value to shareholders in a variety of ways. To further boost long-term growth prospects, restore growth, and fend off potential competition, CVS combined with Aetna. This combination creates the first through-in-through healthcare company, combining CVS's pharmacies and PBM platform with Aetna's insurance business. The new CVS combines its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second-largest diversified healthcare company.

CVS has been in a perpetual stock slump with or without COVID-19 in the backdrop. CVS has been beaten down for years, plummeting by over 50% ($113 to $52) from its multi-year highs. The stock currently sits at a bleak ~$58 per share and struggling to hold on to any share price appreciation despite the positive string of recent earnings with plenty of runway left in its growth from its Aetna acquisition. This was a bold and hefty price tag to pay yet necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space, changing marketplace conditions, and political backdrop with drug pricing pressures. CVS made a defensive yet necessary acquisition to enable the company to go back on the offensive. At current levels, CVS presents a compelling investment opportunity; however, it has been a value trap for years despite the company still being in the early stages of its CVS-Aetna combination, which will drive shareholder returns for years to come.

Challenging Backdrop

The pharmaceutical supply chain cohort, specifically CVS, has been unable to obtain a firm footing in the backdrop of consolidation within the sector, negative legislative undertones, drug pricing pressures, rising insurance costs, and a market that has lost patience with these stocks. These factors culminated in sub-par growth with a level of uncertainty as the sector continued to face headwinds from multiple directions. Many of the stocks that comprised this cohort presented compelling valuations in a very frothy market. This allure had been a value trap as these stocks continued to disappoint. It's no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. Continue reading "CVS Stock Slump Despite Aetna Catalyst"

Transformation Underway - CVS Health and Aetna Combination

The combination of CVS Health (CVS) and Aetna is proving to be a success after initial skepticism by investors. CVS has broken out recently due to a string of better than expected quarters, in part attributable to the Aetna acquisition. CVS is generating large amounts of free cash flow, paying down debt, and returning value to shareholders in a variety of ways. To further boost long-term growth prospects, restore growth, and fend off potential competition, CVS combined with Aetna. This combination creates the first through-in-through healthcare company, combining CVS's pharmacies and PBM platform with Aetna's insurance business. The new CVS combines its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second-largest diversified healthcare company.

This is a bold and hefty price tag to pay yet necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space, changing marketplace conditions, and political backdrop with drug pricing pressures. CVS made a defensive yet acquisition required to enable the company to go back on the offensive. CVS had been beaten down for years, plummeting by over 50% ($113 to $52) from its multi-year highs. As of late, CVS has broken out to the mid $70s on the heels of its positive string of earnings. At current levels, CVS presents a compelling investment opportunity while the company is still in the early stages of its CVS-Aetna combination, which drives shareholder returns.

Challenging Backdrop

The pharmaceutical supply chain cohort, specifically CVS, has been unable to obtain a firm footing in the backdrop of consolidation within the sector, negative legislative undertones, drug pricing pressures, rising insurance costs, and a market that has lost patience with these stocks. All of these factors culminated into sub-par growth with a level of uncertainty as the sector continued to face headwinds from multiple directions. Many of the stocks that comprised this cohort presented compelling valuations in a very frothy market. This allure had been a value trap as these stocks continued to disappoint. It's no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. Continue reading "Transformation Underway - CVS Health and Aetna Combination"

Will CVS Health and Walgreens Survive?

Is it the single payer narrative being pushed by Democratic Presidential frontrunners? Is it the Amazon threat via its acquisitions of PillPack and Whole Foods that may displace traditional pharmacies? Is it the drug pricing pressures that are eroding margins and limiting margin expansion over time? Is it the secular decline in the physical footprint storefront retail space that’s hindering foot traffic and off-the-shelf purchases? Regardless of whether or not it’s singularly attributable to one of these factors or the culmination of all the aforementioned factors, CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) are being pressured in many different directions. CVS and Walgreens have plummeted by 53% ($113 to $53) and 46% ($97 to $52), respectively from their multi-year highs. Over $110 billion in combined market capitalization has been erased from these two companies. With threats coming from all angles, will these two pharmaceutical supply chain heavyweights be able to not only survive but compete and revive their dominance in the marketplace?

Backdrop and Market Dynamics

The pharmaceutical supply chain cohort, specifically CVS and Walgreens, are simply unable to obtain firm footing in the backdrop of consolidation within the sector, negative legislative undertones, drug pricing pressures, rising insurance costs and a market that has lost patience with these stocks. All of these factors culminate into sub-par growth with a level of uncertainty as this sector continues to face headwinds from multiple directions. Many of the stocks that comprised this cohort presented compelling valuations in a very frothy market. This allure has been a value trap as these stocks continue to be a falling knife. It’s no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. Continue reading "Will CVS Health and Walgreens Survive?"

CVS - Earnings Implosion And Opaque Near-Term

The pharmaceutical supply chain cohort is simply unable to obtain firm footing in the backdrop consolidation within the sector, legislative backdrop, drug pricing pressures, rising insurance costs and a market that has lost patience with these stocks. All of these factors culminate into sub-par growth with a level of uncertainty as this sector continues to face headwinds from multiple directions. Many of the stocks that comprised this cohort presented compelling valuations in a very frothy market. CVS Health (CVS) was one stock that stood out as compelling value sitting, near multi-year lows in December of 2018. During the market rebound in January and February, CVS began to appreciate to new highs moving from $63 in mid-January to $70 in mid-February or an 11% move to the upside. Upon the release of its Q4 earnings, the narrative quickly changed as the transition to growth and Aneta integration is proving to be much slower than investors had anticipated, yielding an opaque situation near term for the stock. CVS has a healthy balance sheet and growing its dividend while seizing partnerships and acquisitions to propel growth into the future. It’s no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. Regardless, until growth is restored and Aneta is fully integrated to yield a fully functional bumper-to-bumper healthcare colossus, the stock remains range bound. However, the long-term picture looks rewarding for value investors as growth initiatives and acquisitions bear fruit.

Market Challenges

The political backdrop has been a major headwind for the entire pharmaceutical supply chain (i.e., drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and pharmacies/pharmacy benefit managers). Exacerbating the political climate, the drug pricing debate continues to rage on throughout political and social media circles weighing on the sector. This backdrop erodes pricing power and margins of drugs that ultimately move from drug manufacturers to patients with insurers and other middlemen playing roles in the supply chain web. Continue reading "CVS - Earnings Implosion And Opaque Near-Term"

CVS: Successfully Fighting Back to 52-Week Highs

Back in August, I had written an article highlighting the pharmaceutical supply chain cohort, presenting the case that these stocks were inexpensive in a very frothy market. Specifically, I profiled McKesson (MCK), Cardinal Health (CAH), CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and made the case that these stocks presented compelling value investments as all were near multi-year lows. The four companies above have healthy balance sheets and growing dividends while seizing partnerships and acquisitions to propel growth into the future. It’s no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. The political backdrop has been a major headwind for the entire pharmaceutical supply chain (i.e., drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and pharmacies/pharmacy benefit managers). Exacerbating the political climate, the drug pricing debate continues to rage on throughout political and social media circles weighing on the overarching sector. This backdrop erodes pricing power and margins of drugs that ultimately move from drug manufacturers to patients with insurers and other middlemen playing roles in the supply chain web. In an effort to address these headwinds and restore growth, companies within this cohort have made bold moves such as CVS acquiring Aetna (AET) to form a colossus bumper-to-bumper healthcare company and Cardinal Health shelling out $6.1 billion to acquire Medtronic's Patient Care, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Nutritional Insufficiency business. The overall cohort has been making bold acquisitions, heeding the competitive threats from the likes of Amazon (AMZN), possess great balance sheets, growing dividends, share buyback programs and more often than not posting growth albeit slower growth. These stocks presented value that provided a margin of safety that were largely de-risked considering the multi-year lows. Relative to the frothy market, these stocks were very inexpensive and witnessed a nice resurgence since proposing these stocks as value plays. CVS and Walgreens have retraced their 52-week highs as of late moving from their August lows and posting a 25% ($64 to $80) and 24% ($66 to $82), respectively. Specifically, I’ll be highlighting CVS Health as a continued value play for a long-term investment.

CVS and Aetna Combination

To further boost long-term growth prospects and fend off potential competition, CVS made a move to acquire Aetna and creates the first through-in-through healthcare company, combining CVS's pharmacies and PBM platform with Aetna's insurance business. Collectively, the acquisition is valued at $78 billion between stock and cash. This new CVS will combine its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second largest diversified healthcare company. This is a bold and hefty price tag to pay yet may be necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space in the face of drug pricing pressures. CVS is making a defensive yet necessary acquisition moving into the future. Continue reading "CVS: Successfully Fighting Back to 52-Week Highs"