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Walgreens profit leaps 69% in Q4

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens reported Tuesday that profit for its fiscal fourth quarter surged 69%, in part due to gains from the $525 million sale of its pharmacy benefits management business Walgreens Health Initiatives during the quarter.

Net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 rose to $792 million, up from $470 million in the year-ago period and surpassing Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 6.5% to $18 billion and same-store sales increased 4.4%.

For the full fiscal year, Walgreen reported earnings of $2.71 billion on $72.18 billion in revenue.

“Through constant innovation and effective execution of our key initiatives, we continued to make substantial progress this year in the transformation of Walgreens to become the first choice for health and daily living,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson.

In the fourth quarter, the company opened or acquired 59 stores compared with 65 in the year-ago quarter. In fiscal 2011, Walgreens added a net gain of 199 new drug stores including 32 acquisitions, on target with its plan to slow organic store growth to between 2.5% and 3% during the year.

The company also said that it completed its 2009-set goal during the fiscal year to convert or open 5,500 Walgreens stores to its new customer centric format. And as announced earlier in the year, it plans to convert or open at least 1,000 “food oasis” stores over the next five years to address the need for greater access to healthy foods in underserved communities across the country, building on a 12-store pilot in Chicago.

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