CVS Health picks Lynch to lead company as president, CEO

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CVS Health has picked its next president and CEO from among its current group of executive leaders.

The company said Friday that veteran insurance executive Karen Lynch will replace Larry Merlo, who plans to retire February 1.

The 64-year-old Merlo will step down after serving as president and CEO of the drugstore chain and pharmacy benefits manager for a decade.

Lynch, 57, is currently an executive vice president and also president of the company’s Aetna insurance division. CVS Health acquired Aetna in a roughly $69 billion deal it completed in 2018.

Lynch came to CVS Health with Aetna and served as an executive with another insurer, Cigna, before that.

The company also reported a better-than-expected third quarter Friday and raised its 2020 forecast.

Net income dropped 20% to $1.22 billion, mainly due to the early retirement of some debt. But total revenue climbed more than 3% to $67.1 billion, and adjusted earnings totaled $1.66 per share.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $1.33 per share on $66.62 billion in revenue in the third quarter, according to FactSet.

The company now expects adjusted per-share earnings of between $7.35 and $7.45. That’s up from a previous forecast for $7.14 to $7.27 per share.

For the full year, analysts project, on average, earnings of $7.23 per share.

CVS Health Corp., based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, runs one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains with about 9,900 retail locations. In addition to selling insurance, it also runs prescription drug plans for big clients like insurers and employers through a large pharmacy benefit management business.

Company shares climbed more than 2% to $62.81 before the opening bell.

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