Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG): Q2 Earnings Preview

Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG), the largest US drugstore chain, is scheduled to release its fiscal second-quarter earnings before the opening bell on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of $0.80 per share on revenue of $18.38 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of $0.68 per share on revenue of $16.99 billion.

Walgreen Co., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the operation of a chain of drugstores in the United States. The company provides its customers with multichannel access to consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness services in communities across America. As of February 28, Walgreens operated 8,161 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. That includes 7,689 drugstores, 509 more than a year ago, including 288 stores acquired over the last 12 months. 

In the preceding fiscal first-quarter, the Deerfield, Illinois based company's net income was $580 million or $0.62 per share for the first quarter, compared with a profit of $489 million or $0.49 per share in the prior-year quarter. Revenue grew rose 6% to a record $17.34 billion from $16.36 billion in the same quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of $0.54 per share on revenue of $17.30 billion. 

Early this month, the company said that total sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2011 were $18.46 billion, up 8.7 percent from $16.99 billion in the second quarter of fiscal 2010. Comparable store sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2011 increased 4.0 percent, while front-end comparable store sales for the quarter also increased 4.0 percent. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 4.5 percent in the second quarter. Prescription sales account for nearly two-thirds of sales The 2010-11 flu season has been a bit milder than normal. Walgreen said it has given 6.4 million flu vaccinations since mid-August. The company said last year that it was aiming to sell 15 million shots over the winter months, and while the flu season is not over, the company is far short of that goal.Walgreen Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon said flu shot sales were strong last year because the 2009 swine flu epidemic was still fresh in the minds of consumers. That created greater demand for the seasonal vaccine, which was given separately from the swine flu vaccine.

The company is steadily improving its cost structure. The company has been able to cut back on profit-sapping promotions as it has improved its merchandise assortment and kept inventory under control. The company also has been slowing down the pace of new store openings and converting thousands of stores to a new, streamlined format that reduces some of its pharmacists' administrative workload so they can spend more time talking with customers.It has also added various products to its offering including beer and wine.

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