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.
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"