Walgreen’s Profits Rise 21 Percent
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DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Walgreen Co. rode steadily rising prescription sales to record earnings in the third quarter, reporting a 21 percent jump in profits even as it expands rapidly.
The results met Wall Street’s expectations.
Net earnings were $259 million, or 25 cents per share, up from $213.4 million, or 21 cents a share, for the same period in 2001. That matched the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.
Sales climbed 17.5 percent to a record $7.4 billion in a quarter when the nation’s largest drugstore chain opened 109 new stores. Sales in stores open more than a year were up 11.5 percent.
Prescription sales accounted for 61 percent of sales and rose 21.9 percent. In 1980, by comparison, they accounted for just 15 percent.
That trend, a result of the aging of the population and pharmaceutical advances, is the primary reason for the company’s ambitious plan to operate 6,000 drugstores by 2010. As of May 31, it had 3,766 stores in 43 states and Puerto Rico, up 342 from a year earlier.
Chief executive officer and president David Bernauer said the expansion is increasing market share.
``There’s a growing need for what we sell, especially in the pharmacy, and how we sell it _ very conveniently,″ he said.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2002, earnings were $771.5 million, or 75 cents a share, up 15.4 percent from $668.7 million, or 65 cents a share. Sales increased 16.9 percent to $21.45 billion from $18.34 billion.
Walgreen shares fell $1.18 to close Monday at $37.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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