2015 was an eventful year for retail pharmacy giant CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) as the company made several big announcements that should position the company for strong growth in the years ahead. Let's review some of the most important headlines that CVS Health investors need to know.
CVS Health hits a bullseye
Over the summer CVS Health made waves when it announced that it reached a deal with Target (NYSE:TGT) to take over its pharmacy and clinic business. The $1.9 billion agreement allowed CVS Health to add 1,660 Target pharmacies to its vast empire, and included in that number are 80 locations that have a clinic. CVS plans to rebrand Targets pharmacies under its CVS/Pharmacy name, and Target's 80 clinics will become MintueClinics.
The deal will provide CVS Health with future avenues for growth as well, as all new Target stores that plan on offering pharmacy services will be offered under the CVS/Pharmacy name. In addition, within two years Target plans on opening 5 to 10 new smaller format stores called "TargetExpress" that will also house a CVS/pharmacy.
CVS Health continues to see big success with its in-store clinics, as the company surpassed the 1,000 clinic milestone during the year. Management has also announced plans to surpass the 1,500 mark nationwide by 2017.
The big get bigger
CVS Health hasn't slowed down on the acquisition front. During the year it agreed to acquire Omnicare, a leading provider of pharmacy services to long-term care facilities, for $12.9 billion. The deal greatly expanded CVS Health's reach into the assisted living and long-term-care facility markets, and it provided the company with an expanded presence in the specialty pharmacy business.
CVS Health's rationale for the deal was that the long-term-care market is poised for continued growth in the decades ahead, as the graying of Americas population continues. That logic makes sense to me, especially when you consider that 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every single day.
2 + 3 = still less than 1
Yet arguably the biggest news item that CVS Health investors should care about during the year didn't take place inside the company at all. Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), the nation's second largest retail pharmacy, made waves a few months back when it announced that it will acquire Ride Aid (NYSE:RAD), the No. 3 player in the space, in a transaction valued at $17.2 billion.
By revenue, Walgreens' 31% pharmacy/drugstore market share will be added to Rite Aid's 10.3% share, which will give the combined entity a meaty 41% of the market, assuming the deal gets the green light from regulators.
Of the surface, that sounds like it could be a quite a threat to CVS Health, but it may actually prove to be a tailwind, as the acquisition could turn the U.S. retail pharmacy industry into a virtual duopoly. Besides, even if the deal does go through CVS Health will still be the top dog, enjoying a 58.1% share of the retail pharmacy market.
Finally, the company just released its guidance for the coming year, and investors should be cheering its upbeat forecast. Management expects that it will be able to grow its adjusted earnings per share by at least 11.25% during the year, predicting it will fall in the range of $5.73 to $5.88.
That strong earnings growth will be driven by the combination of the Target acquisition, adding Omnicare's business into the fold, opening more retail stores, its continue rollout of MinuteClinic, and from its plans to repurchase $4 billion of its shares. To top it off, the company announcement that it will be raising its dividend by a strong 21% to $1.70 annually, which gives its shares a strong 1.75% forward yield at the moment.
CVS Health appears to be firing on all cylinders, which leads me to believe that its stock is poised to have a prosperous year.