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Walgreens shares rise after its earnings get lift from Covid vaccines and testing, raises forecast

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A sign displays the types of COVID-19 vaccination doses available at a Walgreens mobile bus clinic on June 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

Walgreens Boots Alliance on Thursday exceeded analysts’ expectations for fiscal first-quarter earnings and raised its forecast for the year, as customers came to its stores for Covid booster shots, at-home test kits and first-time vaccinations for children.

Shares rose nearly 3%in premarket trading.

The drugstore chain raised its forecast for the year, saying it now anticipates adjusted earnings per share to grow the low single-digits instead of being flat.

Here’s what Walgreens reported compared with what analysts were expecting for the first quarter ended Nov. 30, based on Refinitiv data:

Earnings per share: $1.68 adjusted vs. $1.33 expected
Revenue: $33.90 billion vs. $32.74 billion expected

In the quarter, net income rose to $3.58 billion, or $4.13 per share, from a net loss of $308 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.68 per share, toppingthe $1.33 expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Sales rose to $33.90 billion from $31.44 billion a year earlier, and were higher than the $32.74 billion that analysts expected.

More booster shots, online sales

Walgreensadministered 15.6 million Covid vaccines in the latest quarter — bringing its total to more than 56 million to date. Its pace of vaccinations accelerated from the previous quarter, when it gave 13.5 million shots. Covid vaccinations peaked at Walgreens in the third quarter of last year, when it administered 17 million shots.

So far, the company said it has administered over 9 million booster shots. It gave 6.5 million Covid tests in the first quarter.

Pandemic-related items lifted its retail sales, too, as shoppers bought at-home Covid tests along with cough, cold and flu medications and beauty items. Retail same-store sales, an industry metric that tracks sales online and at stores open at least a year, rose 10.6% compared with the year-ago period — the largest jump in more than 20 years.

Digital sales in the U.S. surged by 88% in the first quarter, as customers placed 3.6 million same-day pickup orders in the three-month period.

At its Boots business the United Kingdom, retail sales online and at stores open at least a year grew by 16.3% compared with the year-ago quarter. Digital sales at Boots in the first quarter nearly doubled versus the same quarter before the pandemic — but foot traffic fell short of pre-pandemic levels, the company said.

Walgreens shares closed Wednesday at $54.00, up nearly 1%. The company’s shares have risen 31% over the past 12 months, bringing its market value to $46.74 billion.

Read the company’s press release here.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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