Walgreen January Sales Rise, Top Key Measure


DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Drugstore operator Walgreen Co. said Thursday that its sales increased in January, topping a key sales measurement monitored by Wall Street.

The largest U.S. drugstore chain said sales at stores open at least a year climbed 6.1 percent for the month. At those stores, pharmacy revenue grew 6.9 percent. Meanwhile, revenue from sales of non-pharmacy items like cosmetics grew 4.5 percent.

Sales at stores open at least a year is a key gauge of a company's health because it leaves out results from stores that have opened, closed, or been acquired within the last year. Walgreen has expanded by 506 locations over the last 12 months, including the acquisition of the Duane Reade pharmacy chain. It also bought three stores in January, closed one and relocated three.

According to Thomson Reuters, analysts expected sales at stores open at least a year to grow 3.4 percent. On average, they estimated that pharmacy revenue at those stores would rise by 3.8 percent and non-pharmacy, or front-end, revenue would increase 2.8 percent.

The company said its total revenue rose 11.3 percent to $5.93 billion, up from $5.33 billion in January 2010. Walgreen said 2.8 percent of that growth came from Duane Reade stores. Walgreen bought the chain and its 258 New York City-area locations for $623 million last year. The company had 8,146 stores as of Jan. 31.

Walgreen, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., has provided more than 6 million flu shots for the season to date.

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