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WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- Driven by sharp improvements in its gross margin performance--even beyond the company's own strong expectations--CVS last week reported a net earnings increase of 14.2 percent to $187.8 million during the third quarter.
CVS executive vice president and chief financial officer David Rickard told analysts during an Oct. 29 earnings call that key to its performance were three factors:
* Continued shrink improvement. CVS inventory shrink reached just .92 percent during the quarter--a substantial improvement of some 33 basis points versus third quarter 2002.
* Benefit from increased generic utilization.
* More profitable …