Recently, at the annual Analyst Day in New York City, CVSCaremark ( CVS ) revealed its fiscal 2012 guidance and also reiterated its 2011 guidance. Based on consistently improving performance, CVS is well on track to provide solutions to counter the recent marketheadwinds .
The company is confident that with its several products and services it can meet the fleeting demands of the market and drive profitability over the long term.
For 2012, CVSCaremark expectsGAAP EPS in the range of $2.93-$3.03 . However, adjusted EPS is expected to remain in the range of $3.15-$3.25 (up 13%-16% based on the mid-point of the company's 2011 guidance), in line with our estimates. The company also expects operating profit of the retail and pharmacy services segment to increase in the range of 7%-9% and 11%-15%, respectively.
Moreover, CVSCaremark projected free cash flow of $4.3-$4.6 billion (up from $4.0 - $4.2 billion expected to be generated in 2011) with cash flow from operation in the range of $5.7-$6.0 billion. Further, the company expects to utilize the remaining $3 billion in its ongoing share repurchase authorization.
Also as a strong indication of the company's solid potential for further growth in 2012 and beyond, CVSCaremark announced 30% rise in its quarterly dividend, thus marking the ninth consecutive year of dividend increase.
The company also reaffirmed its dividend payout ratio target of approximately 25%-30% by 2015, which reflects a compounded dividend growth rate of nearly 25% per year from 2010. Further, as per the 2012 EPS guidance, the new dividend rate translates into a 20% to 21% payout ratio, an increase from 19%-20% in 2011 and 13% in 2010.
The company also expects to generate more than $30 billion in cash available to enhance shareholder value from 2011 through 2015. Earlier, while reporting third quarter 2011 results, CVSCaremark tightened its EPS outlook for fiscal 2011 to $2.77-$2.81 (earlier guidance being $2.75-$2.81). The guidance for cash flow from operations and free cash flow for fiscal 2011, however, remained unchanged at $5.5-$5.6 billion and $4.0-$4.2 billion, respectively.
We are also pleased with the company's guidance for 2012. Although concerns linger given the margin pressure felt by the company, we are confident about CVS' longer-term potential, based on its retail execution, deployment potential and the strong 2012 generics cycle. Moreover, we believe the healthcare reform will open up new opportunities for the company.
Currently, CVSCaremark carries aZacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating), which also corresponds to our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.