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CVS Caremark's 4Q profit rises 6 percent

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm •  Published: February 6, 2013

Walgreen and Express Scripts resumed doing business last September. Even so, CVS estimates that it gained more than 5 million prescriptions, and it expects to keep at least 60 percent of that this year.

CVS said it now expects 2013 adjusted earnings of $3.86 to $4 per share, a two-cent increase from its previous forecast. The new outlook is still in line with analysts' prediction of $3.92 per share, on average.

CVS also said Wednesday that it made its first foray into the international drugstore business with the purchase a 44-store Brazilian pharmacy chain. CVS Caremark didn't disclose the price on the deal, which closed last week, but said the acquisition fit its plan to take a measured approach to growing outside the United States.

U.S.-focused health care companies have shown a growing interest in international markets as they seek to diversify their revenue sources and search for less mature markets that have growth potential.

"We view Brazil as an attractive market ... and while chains are prevalent, it is still a highly fragmented market so we see nice opportunities to grow the business over time," CEO Larry Merlo said.

Last year, Walgreen completed an initial investment of nearly $7 billion in the privately held European health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots, which gives it a large presence in the United Kingdom and access to emerging markets like China.

The U.S. market isn't completely tapped out for drugstores, but they are preparing for that eventuality, said Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager with the asset management firm GAMCO Investors. He noted that the U.S. health care overhaul will bring them more business as it expands insurance coverage, and companies figure they can add stores in the United States for another five or 10 years.

"When you take that long-term view, you just have to start now in diversifying and going into new markets," he said.

CVS shares fell 48 cents to close at $51.24 Wednesday. The stock has gained 18 percent in the past 12 months.