(Adds details from conference call, updates shares)
April 5 Drugstore chain operator Walgreens Boots
Alliance Inc reported a surprise drop in quarterly sales
on Wednesday, citing challenging market conditions in Europe and
the impact of a stronger dollar.
The company also said it would repurchase up to $1 billion
worth of shares until Dec. 31.
Walgreens said sales from its international business fell
14.5 percent to $3.10 billion in the second quarter ended Feb.
28. Sales in its wholesale business, which also operates in
Europe, fell 10.6 percent to $5.03 billion.
The average value of the dollar has risen 3.3 percent
against a basket of currencies in the three months ended
Sales in the quarter were also hurt by a drop in front-end
sales at its U.S. stores due to weak demand for consumables and
personal care items.
Front-end sales, which include sales of non-prescription
drugs, beauty products and toiletries, account for a third of
the U.S. pharmacy business.
Walgreens has been trying to revive U.S. retail sales, or
front-end sales, mainly by sprucing up its beauty business,
which is a big traffic driver. The company said it would roll
out revamped beauty sections in more than 1,000 stores by the
end of 2017. It renovated beauty units in over 1,800 stores last
The company said it would close 60 stores in addition to the
200 closures announced in 2015 as part of a cost-cutting plan.
The largest U.S. drugstore chain, which has been waiting
nearly a year and a half for regulatory approval to buy smaller
rival Rite Aid Corp, did not provide an update on the
Net income attributable to Walgreens, rose to $1.06 billion,
or 98 cents per share, in the quarter, from $930 million, or 85
cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company reported a profit of $1.36 per
share, in line with the average analyst estimate, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales fell to $29.45 billion from $30.18 billion a year
earlier. Analysts on average had expected sales to remain flat.
Shares of Walgreens fell as much as 1.9 percent to $80.97 on
Wednesday. As of Tuesday's close, the company's shares had
fallen 4.4 percent in the last 12 months.
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by