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Walgreens March Sales Dented By Express Scripts Exit


Drugstore chain Walgreens (WAG) announced Wednesday that comparable store sales, or sales at stores open for one year or more, declined 6.8 percent in March, with total sales, including stores open less than a year, also dropping 4.3 percent.

The company's results continue to be negatively impacted by its exit from Express Scripts network, and a mild winter has hurt sales of cough, cold and flu remedies.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based company reported that total sales, including stores open less than a year, decreased 4.3 percent to $6.02 billion in the month of March, from $6.29 billion in the same period of last year.

Meanwhile, total comparable store sales declined 6.8 percent, which had a negative impact of 1.3 percentage points due to calendar day shifts.

At the company's pharmacy counters, sales for the month decreased 8.4 percent, negatively impacted due to dropping out from Express Scripts network. Pharmacy sales represented 63.5 percent of total sales for the month.

Total prescriptions filled at comparable stores for the month of March declined 11.4 percent.

However, front-end sales increased 2.5 percent, and comparable store front-end sales were up 1.2 percent.

During the month of March, Walgreens opened eight stores, including one relocation. The company noted that it will report combined comparable store sales for the months of March and April with its April sales results.

"We continued to see growth in our front-end business, and with Easter falling on April 8 this year we anticipate that much of our Easter sales will be reflected in our April results," CFO Wade Miquelon said in a statement.

Walgreens also added that it launched in mid-February a new weekly ad circular, with additional online savings, which has helped it "drive profitable sales."

WAG closed Tuesday's regular trading session at $33.85, down $0.18 on a volume of 9.35 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $30.34 to $45.34.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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