CVS: Aetna Acquisition - Desperation or Prudent Acquisition

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech


CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) is going all in with a $69 billion acquisition of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) to form a colossus bumper-to-bumper healthcare company. This new CVS will combine its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second largest diversified healthcare company via the proposed Aetna acquisition. This is a hefty price tag yet may be necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space in the face of drug pricing pressures. The $69 billion acquisition will not come cheap and require issuing debt and diluting the share base as this will be funded via a combination of stock and cash. CVS has been in a downward spiral since its all-time highs of $112 in 2015 to lows of $67 in 2017, translating into wiping out 40% of its market cap. Several headwinds have negatively impacted its growth, and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued the stock. Exacerbating this downward movement, Amazon (AMZN) has entered the fray and has resulted in another leg down for the stock. The latter half of 2015 through 2017, the political backdrop was a major headwind for the entire pharmaceutical supply chain from drug manufacturers to pharmacies/pharmacy benefit managers (i.e., CVS and Walgreens (WBA)) and the drug wholesalers in-between (i.e. McKesson (MCK), Cardinal Health (CAH) and AmerisourceBergen (ABC)). Lastly, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and behind the scenes moves in the healthcare space has incited rumors that Amazon is looking to gain entry into the pharmacy space via leveraging the Whole Foods physical footprint. The Amazon threat has become a formidable challenger in this space as it has in the past with other industries with its first real pivot after acquiring Whole Foods with major plans in entering the pharmacy space. I believe CVS will undergo short-term stock pressure but long-term appreciation as this move was a defensive yet necessary acquisition moving into the future.

CVS Health/Aetna

Aetna Acquisition

The Aetna acquisition creates the first through-in-through healthcare company, combining CVS's pharmacies and PBM platform with Aetna's insurance business. Per the agreed terms, Aetna stockholders will receive $207 per share, $145 in cash and $62 in stock. Collectively, the acquisition is valued at $78 billion.

"This combination brings together the expertise of two great companies to remake the consumer healthcare experience." "With the analytics of Aetna and CVS Health's human touch, we will create a healthcare platform built around individuals." CVS President and CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement. Continue reading "CVS: Aetna Acquisition - Desperation or Prudent Acquisition"