By Kimberly Chin
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s shares slid in premarket trading as weaker sales of non-pharmacy items put a damper on the drugstore chain's sales growth.
Comparable retail sales in the fourth quarter fell 1.9% from a year earlier in the U.S., weighed by less demand in the general-merchandise and personal-care categories. Comparable retail sales in its international segment fell 0.9% on a constant-currency basis.
Overall sales rose 11% to $33.44 billion, as growth in prescription volumes helped lift pharmacy sales. Walgreens said U.S. pharmacy sales rose 17%, due primarily to its acquisition of stores from Rite Aid Corp. Thursday, the company said the integration remains on track and has helped it gain market share. Analysts had expected Walgreens to report $33.78 billion in revenue, according to a Refinitiv poll.
Shares fell 2.5% to $70.51. Walgreens stock has been flat for the year.
Net income for the Deerfield, Ill.-based company rose 89% to $1.51 billion, or $1.55 a share, from the same period a year ago. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share came in at $1.48, above the $1.45 expected by analysts.
The drugstore chain also gave earnings guidance for the fiscal year 2019. It expects earnings growth between 7% to 12% at constant-currency rates, and adjusted earnings per share in the range of $6.40 to $6.70. Analysts expect adjusted earnings of $6.45 a share.
The company, whose roots date to 1901, has more than 18,500 stores across 11 countries.
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