Walgreen's 4Q Profit Surges as Traffic, Sales Rise

Walgreen Co (NYSE:WAG), the largest U.S. drugstore chain, posted a sharply higher quarterly profit on Tuesday, helped by rising sales of general merchandise and prescriptions.

Walgreen said it had earned $792 million, or 87 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended on August 31, up 68.5 percent from $470 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Walgreen announced in June that it would stop filling prescriptions for people covered by pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts Inc <ESRX.O> after a disagreement over reimbursement rates.

The company said there has been "no substantive progress" in the contract renewal negotiations with Express Scripts.

Sales rose 6.5 percent to $18 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.4 percent in the quarter. The number of visitors of drugstores open at least a year rose 1.6 percent, and customers spent 3 percent more per visit.

Walgreen runs more than 7,7O0 drugstores.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)