CVS/Pharmacy Vs. Walgreens: Final Analysis
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CVS/Pharmacy Vs. Walgreens: Final Analysis

Houston : TX : USA | Jan 11, 2011 at 10:17 PM PST
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Executive Summary/Company History/Products and Services

CVS/Pharmacy has shown a consistent growth for the last three years. Three years ago CVS/Pharmacy has merged with Longs Pharmacy and Caremark to form the largest retail pharmacy chain in the United States.

CVS/Pharmacy- CVS/Pharmacy began operations in 1963, and added the pharmacy department in 1967. In 2007, CVS merged with Caremark Rx, Inc. Finally, in 2008, CVS bought the Longs Drug Store chain. CVS has over 7000 stores(Cvs.com, 2010). At the end of 9 months of 2010, the company has lost 9.25% against 2009 net income. However, the company has increased their assets and liabilities by .1% against 2009 figures(Cvs.com, 2010). As the company stands now in trends, Net revenues for this 7,100-store drugstore retailer were $23.9 billion for Q3 2010, down 3.1% from $24.6 billion in the prior year's period. Poor performance by the company's Pharmacy Services segment—its revenues dropped 8.5%, to $11.9 billion—was a major contributor to the company's woes. CVS' Retail Pharmacy segment revenues actually increased 4.1%, with total same-store sales climbing 2.5%(Trendwatch, 2010).

CVS/Pharmacy is in the process of transitioning their leadership at CEO. Tom Ryan will be stepping down at the end of the year as CEO, and Larry Merlo will be promoted to CEO. Tom Ryan has been the CEO of CVS/Pharmacy Inc. since 1994, and it has been the consistency at the top that has lead to the expansion of CVS/Pharmacy as being largest retail pharmacy chain in the United States. Now that Tom's tenure is coming to a close, a new dawn is occurring for the corporation with Larry Merlo taking the helm.

Competitor Analysis

In the retail pharmacy industry, there are only three pure pharmacy firms: CVS/Pharmacy, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. Pure pharmacy firms are pharmacy retailers whose business is built around the pharmacy. Wal-Mart, Kroger, and local grocery stores have pharmacies as an extension of their business plan, but it is not the focus of their company. CVS/Pharmacy and Walgreens have been battling over the top position for years, and Rite-Aid has been ranked at a steady third in the market place.

Walgreens- Walgreens is CVS/Pharmacy's chief competitor. Founded in 1901, Walgreens is considerably older. Unlike CVS/Pharmacy, Walgreens began with the pharmacy department. With 6000 stores, Walgreens is smaller than CVS. In 2010, Walgreens has increased sales against last year by 6.4%, and net earnings by 4.2%(Walgreens.com, 2010). Moreover, they have posted 36 straight years of sales gains, and 35 straight years of dividend payments(Walgreens.com, 2010). Finally, Walgreens has posted net earnings for 5 consecutive years. Despite Walgreens smaller size, it has a bigger market share at 31.2% compared to CVS/Pharmacy's 25%(Wikinvest.com, 2010).

The last 10 years has been the first decade that a Walgreens family member was not at the helm of the Walgreens Pharmacy chain. Charles Walgreens retired from the CEO position in 1998, but stayed on a member of the board of directors. Mr. Walgreens will officially retire for the company this year. Gregory D. Wasson is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Wasson has worked with Walgreens for 31 years.

In conclusion, Walgreens & CVS/Pharmacy are the giants in retail pharmacy. Their strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures have brought them to a virtual dead heat. The purpose of this research is analyze the financial strength of both to determine which is in the best financial health.

Common Size Statements

We will first compare CVS/Pharmacy and Walgreens through common size financial statements. Commons size financial statements allow for comparisons to be made between companies of different sizes and volumes in order to see the true performance. CVS/Pharmacy has over 7000 stores, and Walgreens Pharmacy only has 6000 stores. The difference in size will have an impact on expense, revenue, and income. Every company plans to get the most out of every dollar spent. Consequently, we will be comparing the their financial performance from 2007-2009.

From the beginning, Walgreens has yielded a better gross profit by an average of 8% over CVS/Pharmacy. Gross profit is the amount left over after cost of goods sold is taken from revenue. Although, both have been steady with their percentage gross profit, CVS/Pharmacy 21% & Walgreens 28%, Walgreens has gained more.

However, Walgreens' celebration is short lived because the balance statement is more than gross profit. In fact the 8% edge in gross profit they gave back in operating expenses. Walgreens' operating expenses took, on average, 22.5% away from their total revenue. CVS/Pharmacy operating expenses took only 14.5% away from their total revenue. Moreover, other indicators of return on investment to the company are higher for CVS/Pharmacy than Walgreens. CVS/Pharmacy has had a higher operating income than Walgreens since 2007. For the last two years CVS/Pharmacy has posted higher income before taxes than Walgreens. Finally, the biggest trend difference between the two firms is that CVS/Pharmacy's net income has increased three years in a row, while Walgreens' net income has steadily decreased three years in a row.

As a company, CVS/Pharmacy received a 20% gross profit margin. The next biggest payment went to operating expenses at 14.12%. After the expenses, income before taxes and operating profit account for 13% and net income accounts for nearly 4%.

In 2009 alone, Walgreens' gross profit and operating expenses nearly cancel each other out. There is only a 4% variance between gross profit and operating expenses for Walgreens. Operating profit and income before taxes accounts for only 10% of the revenue, while Walgreens' net income accounts for barely over 3%.

On the key financial statements, Walgreens' performance has been diminishing over the last three years, and CVS/Pharmacy's performance has risen. The reason behind the growing strength of CVS/Pharmacy has been the general, consistent financial growth. This will be illustrated by the financial ratios.

Liquidity is the firm's ability to meet its current obligations(Marshall, McManus, Vielle, 2010). Working capital is the excess of a firm's current assets over its current liabilities(2010). In this case, Walgreens' has higher working capital than CVS/Pharmacy. On other tests of liquidity, Walgreens' out performs CVS/Pharmacy. Walgreens has a higher current ratio, acid test ratio, and they turn over their assets 8 more times a year than CVS/Pharmacy. Although Walgreens has yielded their lowest net income in three years, they have a high comparable liquidity. Moreover, the higher net income for CVS/Pharmacy has not translated into higher liquidity. However, the increased in income has translated into a higher inventory turnover for CVS/Pharmacy.

Conclusion

The findings of this paper are illustrating the transition in the marketplace between CVS/Pharmacy and Walgreens. For the last 20 years, these retail pharmacy firms have battled for supremacy in the industry. Over the last decade, CVS/Pharmacy has had one Chief Executive Officer, Tom Ryan. However, since Tom Ryan took over in 1999, Walgreens has had 3 CEO changes. The result of inconsistency in their leadership has translated to a lower return on investment. Walgreens has higher liquidity, but they have shown three years of decreasing net income. As a result, they are getting weaker as an organization. However, CVS/Pharmacy has shown consistent growth over the last three years. Their increasing strength has been represented by their purchases of Long's Pharmacy and Caremark. It is my conclusion that this trend will continue.

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CVS vs. Walgreens
From "Rewritten Lives" author J. Elliot HowardFor more information visit Rewrittenlives.com and Amazon.com
jelliothoward is based in Houston, Texas, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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