Walgreens posts quarterly earnings beat as prescription drug sales rise

Pedestrians walk past a Walgreens store in New York.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walgreens Boots Alliance reported fiscal third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street’s expectations Thursday before market open.

The drugstore chain reported adjusted earnings of $1.47 per share, beating analysts polled by Refinitiv’s expectations of $1.43 per share. Walgreens posted $34.59 billion in sales. Analysts had expected $34.46 billion.

Shares of the company rose 2% in premarket trading.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.47, adjusted, vs. $1.43 expected
  • Revenue: $34.59 billion vs. $34.46 billion expected

Walgreens maintained its full-year forecast of earnings to be roughly flat. The company cut its outlook last quarter from the previously guided 7% to 12% growth.

Walgreens and its competitors are under pressure, with insurers paying pharmacies less to fill prescriptions and consumers buying fewer household items at drugstores and more online. Facing these challenges, Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina dubbed last quarter the “most difficult” quarter since Walgreens acquired European drugstore chain Alliance Boots in late 2014 to form Walgreens Boots Alliance.

“Following a difficult second quarter, we made progress in the third quarter against the strategic goals we set, and are pleased to report an improvement in our U.S. comparable growth compared with the first half of the year,” Pessina said.

Walgreens has signed more than a dozen partnerships, with companies like Sprint, FedEx, Kroger and LabCorp, mainly aimed at driving more traffic into its stores. While these deals could help Walgreens test new store formats, analysts are skeptical they will drive meaningful revenue growth.

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