In what would be a deeper plunge into the primary care space, CVS is considering an acquisition of Cano Health. The news comes just weeks after the health giant announced it had purchased Signify Health.
The Wall Street Journal reported that CVS and Humana are the main bidders for the Florida-based primary care provider. Shares in Cano Health jumped 38% when the news broke on Thursday, but CVS closed the day flat at $99.83. Humana shares ticked up 1%. CVS and Cano Health declined to comment.
The bid rumors come as CVS is investing heavily in primary care through its own physical locations like MinuteClinics, through home care options through Coram, and even virtually through its telehealth platform. Primary care doctors offer CVS a key point of leverage, data and on-the-ground connection to its customer base.
“Primary care physicians are the lynchpin where other meaningful health care decisions are made,” said John Boylan, senior equity analyst for health care at Edward Jones. “The more access you have to patients, and the more data you can generate from that access, the better off you are.”
Cano Health, with a market cap of $4.2 billion, would grant CVS access to 141 primary care facilities around the country geared towards Medicare Advantage patients.
That expansion would complement CVS’s Sept. 5 announcement that it reached a $8 billion deal to acquire Signify Health, outbidding Amazon and UnitedHealth. Signify has a network of 10,000 clinicians that conduct in-home visits around the country, and CVS executives see that data holding predictive power about the health decisions patients will make, and in turn, how the company can capture those dollars.
The reports of a bid mean CVS might be sticking to the agenda announced by executives in December. On a call with investors, chief financial officer Shawn Guertin said the company will deploy $20 billion to $25 billion over the next three years to drive growth, including through mergers and acquisitions.
Despite the acquisition and strong earnings – the company raised its revenue projections by $2 billion after a strong second quarter – CVS stock has lagged behind its competitors. Shares fell 7% year to date, while UnitedHealth rose 1.3% and Humana climbed 5.5% in the same period.
Chief Executive Karen Lynch added that much of that will be in the primary care space. “Primary care drives the most clinical outcomes,” she said in December. “However, we realized that reaching scale with this model will require partnerships and M&A activity.”
Before the announcement, Cano Health stock was down 33% for the year, hovering around $6.30 per share. Shares closed at $8.67 on Thursday. The service provider is expected to perform strongly even amid market instability.
“One nice thing about health care services is that they do generate some attractive cash flows both in up and down markets,” said Boylan.