Express Scripts ( ESRX ) is the largest stand-alone pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) in the U.S., helping health benefit providers improve access to (and the affordability of) prescription drugs. The ongoing impasse with its largest customer (Anthem), an evolving competitive landscape, and public finger pointing between so-called middlemen and drug manufacturers as to the source of persistent drug inflation led us to (once again) test the assumptions underlying our notion of Express's business value. Our additional diligence suggested an increased probability of Anthem not renewing with Express Scripts in 2019. In addition, the likelihood that competitive or industry pressures offset a portion (potentially even all) of other future profit-per-script drivers seem to have increased, particularly for Express. This combination made the risk-reward trade-off less compelling, and we elected to close our position in Express across the funds following the post-election rally in November.
- From Weitz Investment Management's Value Fund 4th quarter 2016 commentary.
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