CVS executives knew that some of their sales would go up in smoke when they decided last year to stop selling cigarettes. The press release announcing that all 7,600 CVS stores nationwide would stop selling all tobacco products acknowledged that sales would take a hit. Still, the company said, “This is the right thing to do.”
The costs of the decision are now becoming clear. CVS Health’s general merchandise sales slumped 7.8 percent last quarter on a same-store basis, the company said Tuesday. The company claims non-pharmacy sales would have stayed the same if tobacco sales — and the other products cigarette buyers added to their baskets — were removed from sales figures for the same quarter in 2014.
Same-store sales in the pharmacy category climbed 4.1 percent, boosting overall same-store sales growth to 0.5 percent compared with the second quarter of last year, down from a 1.2 percent year-over-year increase the previous quarter. Net revenue overall grew by 7.4 percent to $37.2 billion, helped by pharmacy services revenue that surged 11.9 percent ($2.6 billion) to $24.4 billion. The company has reportedly increased its market share in the health and beauty categories (it did, however, narrow its full-year earnings forecast).
So even as the move to drop cigarettes has cost the company, its bet on health as the source of future growth may be starting to pay off. CVS stock dropped in the wake of its earnings announcement, but shares are still up more than 15 percent on the year and 44 percent over the past 12 months.
The Pentagon has taken over cost-cutting efforts for the F-35 program, which has been plagued by years of cost overruns, production delays and technical problems. The Defense Department rejected a cost-saving plan proposed by contractors including principal manufacturer Lockheed Martin as being too slow to produce substantial savings. Instead, it gave Lockheed a $60 million contract “to pursue further efficiency measures, with more oversight of how the money was spent,” The Wall Street Journal’s Doug Cameron reports. F-35 program leaders “say they want more of the cost-saving effort directed at smaller suppliers that haven’t been pressured enough.” The Pentagon plans to cut the price of the F-35A model used by the Air Force from a recent $94.6 million each to around $80 million by 2020. Overall, the price of developing the F-35 has climbed above $400 billion, with the total program cost now projected at $1.53 trillion. (Wall Street Journal, CNBC)
"The train's left the station, and if you're a budget hawk, you were left at the station." -- Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.
Two conservative groups are spending millions to promote an overhaul of the tax code.
The American Action Network announced Thursday that it will spend $2 million on a new TV ad featuring a Midwestern mom who says her family is “living paycheck to paycheck” and that a middle class tax cut would give them “piece of mind.” The ad will air in 28 congressional districts currently held by Republicans. Americans for Prosperity, backed by the Koch brothers, will spend $4.5 million on ads that promote tax reform while criticizing three red-state Democratic senators -- Claire McCaskill (MO), Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Joe Donnelly (IN).