Walgreen Co. Sales Jump 9.4 Percent in September

DEERFIELD, Ill. (Chicago Tribune/MCT) -

Walgreen Co. reported a September sales increase of 9.4 percent, to $6.48 billion, compared with the same month last year, boosted largely by an increase in its pharmacy sales and prescriptions filled.

Shares of Walgreen, the largest U.S. drugstore operator, closed Friday up $1.01, or 1.7 percent, to $60.77.

Sales at Walgreen stores open at least a year rose 1.7 percent, and prescriptions filled, adjusted for calendar-day differences, were up 3.9 percent. Pharmacy sales were up 11.3 percent at these stores.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreen has also administered 2.1 million flu shots so far this season, 200,000 more compared with the same period last year.

Walgreen on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter loss, because of an $866 million accounting charge from its decision to acquire ahead of schedule the remaining 55 percent of European counterpart Alliance Boots GmbH. The $15.3 billion deal should close early next year. Without the charge, though, analysts said reported earnings were no surprise.

Walgreen executives decided to expand globally for the first time in 2012, when it bought a 45 percent stake in Alliance Boots. The new holding company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, will be incorporated in Delaware and will help the company grow from about 8,300 stores in the U.S. to 12,400 in 14 countries.

A few years ago, Walgreen introduced a Balance Rewards loyalty program, and on Thursday, it announced a partnership with health-information company WebMD to award customers with points for exercise. The company plans to continue strategic partnerships with digital-focused companies, Walgreen officials have said.