Walgreens Boots Alliance Beats Earnings Estimates In the Fourth Quarter

Antitrust Concerns Over Walgreens, Rite Aid Deal

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which on Tuesday agreed to buy drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp. for $9.42 billion in cash, reported profit that topped analysts’ estimates as its pharmacies filled more prescriptions and the company cut costs.

Excluding one-time items, fiscal fourth-quarter earnings were 88 cents a share, beating the 81-cent average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue totaled $28.5 billion, matching analysts’ estimates, Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens said Wednesday in a statement.

The company’s pharmacies filled 222 million prescriptions in the quarter, up 4.6 percent from a year before.

The drugstore chain said it has saved $799 million this fiscal year from cost cuts, partly from the combination last year of Walgreen Co. and Alliance Boots GmbH to form the current company. Cost savings are expected to grow to $1 billion in fiscal 2016, the company said, with more to come from adding Rite Aid.

The Rite Aid deal would combine the second- and third-largest U.S. pharmacy chains, with a total of about 12,800 locations, helping Walgreens vault past market leader CVS Health Corp. The acquisition, which may attract close antitrust scrutiny from regulators, would add to Walgreens’ earnings starting a year after completion and produce more than $1 billion in cost savings, the companies said when they announced the deal Tuesday.

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