Express Scripts Holding Co., the U.S.'s largest pharmacy benefit manager after buying Medco Health Solutions Inc., rose the most in five weeks after the company reported prescription volume increased more than analysts expected.
Express Scripts gained 1.4 percent to $55.10 in New York trading Friday. The stock has declined 6.8 percent in the past 12 months.
The volume of adjusted prescription claims Express Scripts handled during the first quarter increased 3.6 percent to about 193 million from a year earlier, the St. Louis County-based company said Thursday. Revenue increased 9.4 percent to $12.1 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $11.5 billion.
"They reassured everybody that everything's on track" with the merger, analyst Dave Shove of BMO Capital Markets in New York said in a phone interview. "And the quarter on scrip metrics was good. The stock's lifting on all of that."
The company shipped 14 million prescriptions to customers by mail, a 6 percent increase from a year earlier that was helped by Walgreen Co.'s decision to withdraw its drugstores from Express Scripts' network, Chief Executive George Paz said on a conference call with analysts Friday.
Profit excluding one-time items was 73 cents per share, missing analysts' average estimate of 77 cents.