Walgreens beats profit estimates as mail services provide boost

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The exterior of the Walgreens store in Times Square is seen in New York, U.S., July 5, 2016. Picture taken July 5, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (Copyright Reuters 2017)

Oct 25 (Reuters) - U.S. drugstore company Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc's profit and revenue beat analysts' estimates in the fourth quarter, as it benefited from an expansion of mail services.

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Shares of the company rose 4.3 percent to $70.15 in premarket trading on Wednesday afterWalgreens also forecast 2018 earnings largely above Wall Street forecasts.

Walgreens said it expects 2018 adjusted earnings of $5.40 to $5.70 per share, largely above analysts' average estimate of $5.47, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Walgreens earlier this year formed a combined specialty pharmacy and mail services company called AllianceRx Walgreens Prime.

Its mail services business helped Walgreens fill more prescriptions in the fourth quarter ended Aug. 31, in which revenue rose 5.3 percent to $30.15 billion. Analysts had expected $29.93 billion.

Net income attributable to Walgreens fell 22 percent to $802 million or 76 cents per share, hurt mainly by a more than $300 million fee it paid Rite Aid Corp after their failed attempt to merge.

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Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.31 per share, topping analysts' expectations of $1.21.

Walgreens in June abandoned its deal to buy Rite Aid after failing to get approval from regulators. Walgreens instead struck a deal to buy nearly half of its smaller rival's U.S. stores.

(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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