Walgreens, Express Scripts, Rite Aid Corporation, CVS Caremark and St. Jude Medical Inc. highlighted in Zacks Analyst Blog:

 Walgreens, Express Scripts, Rite Aid Corporation, CVS Caremark and St. Jude
               Medical Inc. highlighted in Zacks Analyst Blog:

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2013

CHICAGO, Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Zacks.com announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Walgreens (WAG), Express Scripts
(ESRX), Rite Aid Corporation (RAD), CVS Caremark (CVS), and St. Jude Medical
Inc. (STJ).

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101027/ZIRLOGO)

Today, Zacks is promoting Four daily picks are offered free.

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Walgreens Discusses Growth Strategy

Recently, Walgreens (WAG) debriefed the investors on its growth strategy for
fiscal 2013, while discussing the current business environment and providing a
recap of its performance in fiscal 2012.

Fiscal 2012 Recap

Despite a challenging year, Walgreens attained several milestones in fiscal
2012. The company made tuck-in acquisitions and forged a strategic partnership
with Alliance Boots. Further, Walgreens launched its Balance Rewards loyalty
program in September 2012, which has recorded more than 50 million
registrations to date.

The company generated record cash flow from operations of $4.4 billion in
fiscal 2012 out of which $1.9 billion was returned back to its shareholders
via stock repurchases and dividends. The payment of the largest quarterly
dividend in the company's history was another takeaway in the fiscal.

By adopting appropriate strategies, Walgreens was also able to convert its
fiscal 2012 headwinds into tailwinds for the ongoing fiscal. Among these, the
most important turnaround is the new multi-year pharmacy network agreement
with pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts (ESRX) (from September 2012),
under which the company's pharmacy network has started filling prescriptions
from Express Scripts customers.

Growth Drivers for 2013 and Beyond

The company's three-pronged strategy of providing a holistic Well Experience,
improving the role of community pharmacy, and forging strategic alliances is
likely to yield positive results. Notably, the company has left no stone
unturned to bolster sales, ranging from a customer loyalty program to
stimulate consumer demand to resorting to inorganic means.

In order to supplement its Well Experience approach, Walgreens continues to
enhance its products and services. Moreover, the company is currently
investing in private brands such as Walgreens, Delish and Nice! among others.

Furthermore, Walgreens is the largest provider of vaccinations and
immunizations in the U.S., with respect to community pharmacy. As per
management, about 70% Americans are without a primary care physician and over
30 million of the U.S. population will gain insurance coverage in 2014 under
the health care reforms. Consequently, revenue contribution from this
franchise is expected to be more significant.

The strategic alliance with Alliance Boots has also allowed Walgreens to
expand its worldwide foothold, especially in Europe. The company believes that
the wholesale business of Alliance Boots should improve its supply-chain
performance. Also worth mentioning in this context is Walgreens' increasing
focus on emerging markets as the pharmaceutical sector in these markets
present significant growth opportunities.

Our Take

The recent developments regarding Walgreens continues to display its strength
in pursuing strategic initiatives as reflected in the bullish momentum of its
stock price. The stock inched towards its 52-week high of $39.21 on January
11, 2013.

Following its annual shareholders' meeting, estimate revision trends also
reflect a bullish sentiment toward Walgreens over the last 7 days. The
positive revisions in the Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2013 as well as
fiscal 2014 underline these events.

While fiscal 2012 was a challenging year for Walgreens, we look forward to
fiscal 2013 with sublime optimism. We currently have a long-term Neutral
recommendation on the stock which carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Its peers
Rite Aid Corporation (RAD) carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and CVS
Caremark (CVS) carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

St. Jude Reports Prelim 4Q Results

Medical devices major, St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) released preliminary
results for the 2012-fourth quarter. The company will report its financial
results on Jan 23, before markets opens.

St. Jude expects adjusted earnings for the quarter in the range of 90 cents—92
cents per share, surpassing its earlier guidance of 86 cents–88 cents. This
compared with the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 89 cents for the quarter.

Adjusted earnings exclude one-time item charges of 50 cents–60 cents per share
related to restructuring and other corporate activities. Management stated
that sales growth and cost reduction measures will lead to the improvement in


Total revenues for the quarter, on a constant currency basis, are projected to
be $1,372 million, down 1% year over year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for
revenues is $1,370 million.

Segment Review

Based on the above projections, revenues from the core Cardiac Rhythm
Management (CRM) business declined 6% (5% on a constant currency basis) to
$682 million. Within CRM, Implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD) revenues
were down 3% at $422 million. This segment continues to be plagued by the
Durata lead issues. Pacemaker revenues declined 11% to roughly $260 million.

Neuromodulation revenues decreased 7%, (down 6% in constant currency) year
over year to $113 million. Revenues from St. Jude's Cardiovascular segment
inched down 1% (up 1% in constant currency) to $338 million. Within
Cardiovascular segment, structural heart devices revenues increased 1% to $152
million but the same from vascular offerings dipped 2% to $186 million.
However, on a positive note, Atrial Fibrillation (AF) revenues climbed 10% (up
11% in constant currency) to $239 million in the quarter.

About the company

St. Jude, with a market cap of $11.80 billion, is a leading medical devices
manufacturer maintaining a solid rate of growth over the past decade. We are
impressed by the company's efforts in leveraging its margins by undertaking
various restructuring initiatives and controlling expenses.

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