Summary Box: Medco Health Solutions earns rise
THE GOODS: Medco Health Solutions Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit rose 11 percent, reflecting an increase in mail-order prescriptions and its expanded service business. The nation's largest pharmacy benefits manager reaffirmed its 2011 guidance, but offered a forecast for the first quarter that appears to have disappointed Wall Street.
THE FORECAST: The pharmacy benefits manager forecast a profit of 88 to 89 cents per share in the first quarter. FactSet says analysts expect 89 cents per share. But Medco's estimate includes a one-time gain of 4 cents per share, as a change in its employee benefit plan will reduce its expenses. The analysts often don't count one-time items in their estimates.
GENERICS: Launches of new generic drugs will boost Medco's profit this year. The company expects to gain 6 cents per share when drugs like Lipitor lose patent protection.