Shares of CVS Health (CVS 0.07%) are tanking today, down 10.5% as of 12:29 p.m. EDT. The culprit behind the big decline was the market meltdown stemming from heightened worries about the impact of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19. Investors panicked after President Trump announced Wednesday evening that most travel from Europe would be suspended for one month due to the viral pandemic.
The important question to ask in the midst of the market sell-off is whether COVID-19 will really negatively impact the business prospects for a given company. In CVS Health's case, it's possible that front-store sales could be hurt if many customers stay home in an effort to minimize exposure to the novel coronavirus.
CVS Health also owns Aetna, one of the largest health insurers. Aetna's medical claims could rise if the coronavirus outbreak is severe in the U.S.
On the other hand, CVS Health's retail pharmacy and pharmacy benefits management (PBM) businesses shouldn't be affected negatively by COVID-19. Patients will still need their prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. There's even the potential that these sales will increase.
But also remember that COVID-19 will run its course over time. Any impact on CVS Health's business related to the pandemic will only be temporary.
The best thing that investors can do right now is to remain calm and focus on the long term. Investing in stocks comes with both ups and downs. We're seeing a big downturn now, but past experience shows that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be one this time, too, for CVS Health and many others.