A logo of CVS Health is displayed on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Drugstore retailer CVS Health Corp’s (CVS.N) adjusted quarterly profit topped analyst estimates on Wednesday as it sold more prescription drugs at its stores, sending its shares up 3.4 percent in premarket trading.

CVS, which agreed to buy health insurer Aetna (AET.N) in a $69 billion deal in December, said it now expects the deal to close during the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The Aetna deal is likely to reshape healthcare in the United States as brings together one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) and pharmacy operators with one of its oldest health insurers, whose national business ranges from employer healthcare to government plans.

CVS said it has received approval from a substantial number of states for the deal so far and expects more approval this summer.

The company’s results come at a time when PBMs are at the crosshairs of the Trump administration, which last month proposed a rule that would scale back protections currently in place that allow rebates between drug manufacturers and insurers and PBMs.

Net loss attributable to CVS was $2.56 billion, or $2.52 per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit of $1.10 billion, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier.

CVS said it took a $3.9 billion goodwill impairment charge in the reported quarter related to its retail business.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.69 per share, beating analysts’ average estimate of $1.61, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Same-store sales rose 5.9 percent and pharmacy same-store sales increased 8.3 percent in the three months ended June 30, driven by an increase in prescription volumes.

Net revenue rose 2 percent to $46.71 billion, above analysts’ average estimate of $46.34 billion.

The company also raised the lower end of its 2018 adjusted earnings forecast to $6.98 to $7.08 per share from its previous forecast of $6.87 to $7.08 per share.


Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Ashwin Shyam ; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Shailesh Kuber