Only a few short years ago, CVS stock was a behemoth. The company could do no wrong and the stock price only went up. Even when CVS decided to stop selling cigarettes, a main revenue source, the stock flourished.
But times have changed. CVS stock has been trading in a range now since late 2016. What gives and will this stock return to its glory days? Today we are going to look at CVS stock and see if there is any urgency in investing in the stock today or in the future.
A Brief History On CVS
CVS (NYSE: CVS) currently operates over 9,700 retail stores worldwide. These stores are retail pharmacies that sell basic healthcare needs and supplies to consumers. Their retail stores also have MinuteClinics, which allow consumers access to doctors for basic health related services. So instead of going to the emergency room at the hospital while your doctor is closed, you can visit a MinuteClinic instead and save money.
CVS also is a benefits manager for pharmaceuticals. Think of this as a middle man between the drug maker and employers. CVS negotiates drug prices and then sells them at the lowest price possible to consumers. Currently, CVS has a good number of partners which is helping to keep revenues afloat.
Where CVS Stock Stands Today
In 2016, CVS stock earned over $177 billion in revenue and $8 billion in free cash flows. In their most recent earnings report, they beat earnings per share estimates of $1.33 by $0.02 and revenues of $46 billion beat estimates by $320 million. This was an increase of 4.5% compared to the previous year.
However CVS also revised guidance slightly down for full year. Current estimates are expected to be flat.
So what is the issue for flat earnings? CVS released notes that Walgreens signed two of the largest benefit partners that CVS had.
As a result, the stock price has been trading in a range as I noted above. So what does the future hold for CVS stock?
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The Future For CVS Stock
Looking ahead, there are some positive and negative things in the future for CVS stock. On the positive side, the US population is aging. As we age, we tend to spend more money on healthcare and prescription drugs. Thus, CVS is in a good place to increase revenues.
Additionally good for the company is that as technology advances, we are finding cures for more and more chronic illnesses. Again, more prescription drugs means more business for CVS.
But it’s not all great news for CVS. For starters, there is a lot more competition when it comes to drug makers, so prices are starting to fall. There is even talk of the government now stepping in to regulate drug prices. Lower prices on prescription drugs means smaller profit margins.
Added to this, there is more competition between CVS and its rivals. Specifically, Walgreens is doing a lot to steal business away from CVS. Walgreens is aggressively expanding its store footprint in the US. And with Walgreens signing away two large benefit partners, you can expect more competition here too in the future.
Finally, let’s not overlook the elephant in the room, which is Amazon. They surprised many by entering the grocery business with their purchase of Whole Foods. While CVS and Walgreens enjoy robust free cash flows, this area will sure to be on Amazon’s radar if it isn’t already.
This means CVS will have to work harder and spend more money to bring in new customers and retain current customers. The same applies for the benefits partners CVS works with too.
So should you be investing in CVS stock? If you are looking for quick appreciation on your money, you are better served looking elsewhere. But if you want a long term play, CVS could be a match. The stock price isn’t going to crater, but it won’t be skyrocketing either.
It should see a slow, steady march higher with the occasional pullback assuming the company is able to retain customers and bring in new customers without much effort or money. If they can do this, buying the stock could make sense. Add in the hefty 2.5% dividend the company pays and you can earn a little extra on your money.
This author has no positions in any stock mentioned and does not plan to open any positions in any stocks mentioned for at least 72 hours after publication of this article.