Shares of Rite-Aid (RAD) soared Thursday after the retailer said tighter expenses helped narrow its first-quarter loss.

The Camp Hill, Pa.-based chain drugstore operator posted a net loss of $63.1 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a loss of $73.7 million, or 9 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Revenue for the three months ended May 28 was $6.4 billion, flat from a year ago, and just ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $6.36 billion.

We are pleased with the continued improvement in our results, said Rite-Aid CEO John Standley. Our sales initiatives continued to gain traction with the number of members enrolled in our wellness+ customer loyalty program reaching nearly 40 million.

The results were primarily lifted by a 2.3% decline in selling, general and administrative expenses. Same-store sales climbed 0.8% on slightly higher prescription fillings and front-end sales, offset by store closings.

Rite-Aid reaffirmed its fiscal 2012 sales guidance in the range of $25.7 billion to $26.1 billion. Analysts are expecting sales of $25.65 billion. The company predicts a full-year loss between 42 cents and 64 cents a share. Analysts are anticipating a loss of 53 cents.

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