How are CVS’s balance sheet and ratios impacted by its $40 billion bond issuance?

Photo of a CVS store exteriorCVS Health Corporation issued $40 billion in bonds on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. This bond issuance was the third largest US corporate bond issuance in history (the others were Verizon Communication Inc.’s $49 billion deal in 2013 and Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s $46 billion offering in 2016.)

CVS issued the bonds to raise funds to pay for its planned acquisition of Aetna Inc. for $69 billion. Regulators are not expected to approve the Aetna purchase until the second half of 2018, but CVS wanted to issue the bonds now to avoid the risk that interest rates will continue to rise throughout the year.

In addition to the proceeds of the bond issuance, CVS will also use $4 billion of cash, a $5 billion loan, and stock to pay for the Aetna purchase.

The CVS bonds range from two-year bonds to 30-year bonds. If the Aetna purchase is not approved by regulators, CVS will pay off the bonds, with the redemption price set according to the terms of the bonds.


  1. What is the impact of the bond issuance on the balance sheet of CVS? What accounts would increase or decrease?
  2. How would CVS’s current ratio be impacted, if at all, by the bond issuance? How would its debt ratio be impacted?
  3. What would happen to CVS’s times-interest-earned ratio as a direct result of the bond issuance? Does this bond issuance increase risk or decrease risk for CVS? Explain.
  4. Why might CVS have decided to issue $40 billion of bonds for the acquisition of Aetna rather than issuing additional common stock?

Instructor Resources

These resources are provided to give the instructor flexibility for use of Accounting in the Headlines articles in the classroom. The blog posting itself can be assigned via a link to this site OR by distributing the student handout below. Alternatively, the PowerPoint file below contains a bullet point overview of the article and the discussion questions.

  • Student handout (pdf) (word) (contains entire blog posting + discussion questions)
  • PowerPoint file (brief article overview + discussion questions)

Copyright 2018 Wendy M. Tietz, LLC

About Dr. Wendy Tietz, CPA, CMA, CSCA, CGMA

Dr. Wendy Tietz is a professor of accounting at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA. She is also a textbook author with Pearson Education.

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