Sales of Flu Shots and Drugs Help Lift Walgreen’s Profit

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – Published: December 21, 2009

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The drugstore operator Walgreen Company said on Monday that its quarterly profit rose 20 percent, mainly because of higher sales of prescription drugs and flu shots.

The company said that results, which topped Wall Street estimates, were helped by greater demand for flu shots in September and October and that its pharmacies were taking more market share. But it emphasized that consumers were cutting back on holiday shopping because of unemployment, hurting sales of items other than drugs.

The company earned $489 million, or 49 cents a share, up from $408 million, or 41 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding 3 cents a share in restructuring costs, the company said it earned 52 cents a share, above the 48 cents expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue in the period, which ended Nov. 30 and was the first quarter of Walgreen’s fiscal year, rose 9.5 percent, to $16.36 billion, from $14.95 billion a year earlier.

Shares in Walgreen, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., fell 3 cents, to $36.61 a share.

Walgreen administered more than five million flu shots from September through November, compared with 1.2 million the previous flu season.

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