(Adds analyst comment, prescription volume details; updates
By Bill Berkrot
April 29 Pharmacy benefit manager Express
Scripts Holding Co on Tuesday posted a
lower-than-expected first-quarter profit and decreased its
earnings forecast for full-year 2014, saying adjusted
prescription volume would be less than it had anticipated.
Express Scripts shares fell 6 percent in extended trading.
For 2014, Express now expects adjusted earnings of $4.82 to
$4.94 per share, down from its prior forecast of $4.88 to $5 per
share. Analysts on average are looking for $4.94 a share.
The anticipated prescription volume shortfall that led to
the decision to revise the 2014 forecast downward was primarily
due to a delay of expected client starts from the middle of the
year to early 2015, and to lost clients, Express Scripts said.
The shortfall would be partially offset by an increase in
earnings per adjusted claim, the company said.
Excluding one-time items, Express said it had adjusted
earnings of 99 cents per share, missing analysts' average
forecast by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said severe winter weather in the quarter as
well as later-than-expected enrollment in public health
insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act hurt its
"They had a pretty challenging start to the year," said ISI
Group analyst Ross Muken.
He said the original prescription volume forecast had seemed
conservative at the time, "and now it's not."
Express now expects adjusted prescription volume to be in
the range of 1.27 billion to 1.33 billion, down from its
previous forecast of 1.30 billion to 1.36 billion.
"If you have less scripts, you're going to make less money,"
Muken said. "On the whole, we're pretty concerned."
Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, administer drug benefits
for employers and health plans and also run large mail order
Chief Executive George Paz said the company expects to
substantially complete integration of its 2012 acquisition of
rival Medco through the remainder of the year and then to turn
its attention to growth.
The company said net profit fell to $328.3 million, or 42
cents per share, from $373 million, or 45 cents per share, a
Revenue of $23.68 billion was shy of Wall Street estimates
of $23.80 billion.
Express Scripts shares fell to $66.75 in after-hours trading
on Nasdaq after closing on Tuesday at $71.01.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; editing by G Crosse, David Gregorio
and Meredith Mazzilli)