Walgreen Co. reported its sales at existing locations rose a better-than-expected 4.5% in November, led by growth in its pharmacy business.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of 3.8%.
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Walgreen said pharmacy sales improved 6.7%, exceeding analysts' estimate for an increase of 5.3%. Prescriptions filled rose 2.6%. A calendar shift had a negative impact of two percentage points and generic drug introductions over the past year had a negative impact of 1.9 percentage points.
Pharmacy sales represented 65.2% of total sales during November.
In the front of the store, sales edged up 0.8%, below analysts' projections of 1.2% during the month, as customer traffic declined 3.3%, mostly offsetting an increase in basket size of 4.1%.
Total drugstore sales rose 4.9% to $6.36 billion for the month.
For the three-month period ended Nov. 30, the drugstore chain operator reported total sales rose 6.8% to $19.59 billion, above analysts' estimates for $19.34 billion. Sales, excluding newly opened or closed locations, improved 5.8%, including growth of 1.5% in the front of the store and 8.3% in the pharmacy section.
The company has been under pressure owing to a miscalculation in the pricing of generic prescription drugs. Walgreen also has been taking steps to achieve $1 billion in costs savings by the end of fiscal 2017 and to complete its deal to buy the rest of European drugstore company Alliance Boots GmbH.