CVS Beats Earnings Estimates While Fighting Off a $45 Billion Crime Spree

Image Credit: iStock, Michael Vi

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

Drugstore chain and health insurer CVS Health announced on Wednesday that it beat Wall Street’s forecasts for both profits and its earnings in the third quarter.

Of course, firms prove analysts wrong all the time — just not while battling a multi-billion dollar organized crime spree, which CVS revealed in dramatic detail this week.

Booster Shots

CVS’ bottom line is getting a huge lift from Covid tests and vaccinations, delivering 8.5 million and 11.6 million in the third quarter, respectively. That propelled it to $73.8 billion in revenue and a $1.6 billion profit, up from $67 billion and $1.2 billion for the same time last year.

It’s a nice counter to CVS’ battle against an increasingly sophisticated network of organized crime that’s pulling off store heists in minutes and peddling their goods online. CVS’ director of organized retail crime Ben Dugan — yep, that’s his title — laid out the stakes when he testified to the Senate this week:

  • Reported thefts at the nearly 10,000 CVS stores in the US have surged 30% since the pandemic began, with one robbed every three minutes — and the average pro thief making off with $2,000 of goods per store in under two minutes.
  • Retailers will lose $45 billion this year to organized retail theft, up from $30 billion a decade ago, according to the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, a trade group.

Amazon Crime: Organized crime often peddles stolen goods on Amazon, which has lobbied against legislation that would require it to verify details for third-party sellers and refuses to cooperate with investigators without a subpoena, citing sellers’ privacy, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cases Closed: Working with law enforcement, CVS said it expects to close 73 e-commerce cases involving $104 million worth of stolen goods being hawked on Amazon this year, way up from 27 cases involving $52 million in goods in 2020.