CVS's Bright Picture

There's just something about photos and pharmacies. They seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate in that famous Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) product.

CVS (NYSE: CVS  ) is supplying yet another dimension to the value-added service of photo processing. The company formally announced the launch last week of a new program that allows consumers to transmit digital photos over the Internet via the CVS website. The images would then be converted into quality prints for next-day pickup at a local store.

CVS says it is the "first nationwide retailer" to provide such an offering, and in my mind at least, it's a surefire way to increase the chain's brand value and differentiate itself from the likes of Walgreen (NYSE: WAG  ) and Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD  ) . Granted, the other two will surely follow with similar initiatives at some point, but this still shows how intelligent and creative this drugstore blue chip can be.

And I don't mean that from the point of view of the technology. Rather, it's from the perspective of just acting upon the idea and trying to monetize it faster than the competition. Sometimes just doing something because the inherent value is recognized by management is half the battle, not necessarily the snazzy nature of what's being done.

Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK  ) , which recently ended its partnership with Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) AOL photo area, is involved in the CVS service. Kodak is making strides to reinvent itself in this constantly evolving digital world, but it remains a stock that I just don't see myself owning anytime soon; it may become a mighty blue chip again in the future, but for me, the jury is still out on that count.

In the meantime, Rite Aid must contend with so-so comps and Walgreen will just have to keep slugging it out with its main three-letter competitor.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned.


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