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Express Scripts Holding Company Earnings: What to Watch

By Daniel Sparks - Jul 23, 2015 at 3:57PM

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What investors need to know before Express Scripts reports second-quarter results.

Healthcare management and administration service company Express Scripts (ESRX) is scheduled to report second-quarter results on Tuesday, July 28 after market close. With shares hitting all-time highs before the report and up more than 40% in the past twelve months, the pressure is on. Can the company live up to expectations?

Analysts expect Express Scripts to report meaningful growth for both revenue and earnings for its second quarter. The average analyst estimate is for adjusted EPS and revenue of $1.40 and $26.15 billion, respectively. These figures are up 14% and 4% from $1.23 and $25.11 billion in adjusted EPS and revenue in the year-ago quarter.

Notably, the analyst consensus estimate for $1.40 in second-quarter EPS is slightly below the midpoint of the forecasted range provided by management. Management said in its first-quarter report it expected to report EPS in the range of $1.39 to $1.43 for Q2.

When Express Scripts reported first-quarter results, its adjusted EPS was in line with estimates for $1.10, and its revenue of $24.9 billion was slightly higher than expectations of $24.3 billion.

Beyond earnings and revenue, investors should check in on the company's guidance.

Express Scripts provides updated guidance every quarter for both the following quarter and the full year. Look for Express Scripts to at least maintain its full-year guidance range midpoint and to forecast quarterly adjusted EPS year-over-year growth in line with growth in recent quarters: 13% to 16%.

Currently trading at 33 times earnings, Express Scripts' stock doesn't look cheap headed into its second-quarter earnings report. But investors should keep in mind that there's no near-term reason to expect the company's EPS growth rates to take a hit. Indeed, analysts, on average, expect robust annualized EPS growth of 13% over the next five years. This expectation for prolonged double-digit year-over-year earnings growth helps justify Express Scripts' premium valuation.

Helping Express Scripts drive EPS growth is its share repurchase program. As the company continues to repurchase shares, management believes it can potentially reduce its share count to as few as 695 billion diluted shares outstanding by the end of the year, below approximately 729 million reported outstanding shares today.

In the past year, Express Scripts has reduced its share count by about 100 million, playing a key role in the company's ability to grow earnings faster than revenue.

ESRX Chart

Trading at all-time highs, Express Scripts' stock may not be a bargain. But as long as management continues to prove it can drive outsized EPS growth and management remains bullish on the long-term outlook for the pharmacy benefit management, or PBM, industry, management would really have to make a major misstep to give investors a good reason to sell.

Investors will be able to find a copy of Express Scripts' second quarter report after market close on Tuesday, July 28 on its investor information page. The second quarter conference call will take place the next day, July 29, at 8:30 AM ET. Investors can tune into the call by visiting this URL.

Stay tuned for more earnings coverage, as well as Foolish analysis of the company's second-quarter results when the report goes live.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Express Scripts. The Motley Fool owns shares of Express Scripts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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