(By Balachander) Drugstore chain Walgreen Co (NYSE:WAG) reported a drop in earnings for the fourth quarter amid a drop in comparable stores and prescriptions filled. Shares retreated 2.46 percent in premarket on Friday.
For the quarter, adjusted earnings per share (EPS) fell to 63 cents from 66 cents, while GAAP EPS dropped to 39 cents from 87 cents.
The company's earnings were impacted by 9 cents related to its transaction with Alliance Boots GmbH, 10 cents from the quarter's LIFO provision and 5 cents in acquisition-related amortization costs.
Sales declined 5.0 percent to $17.1 billion, and total sales in comparable stores fell 8.7 percent. Brand-to-generic prescription drug conversions impacted sales by $664 million or 3.7 percentage points in the fourth quarter.
Prescription sales, which generated 63.3 percent of sales in the fourth quarter, decreased 8.1 percent, while prescription sales in comparable stores declined 12.8 percent. Prescriptions filled dropped 6.9 percent to 188 million.
Wall Street analysts, on average, expected earnings of 56 cents per share on sales drop of 4.60 percent.
In June, the company agreed to acquire a 45 percent stake in U.K.'s health and beauty retailer Alliance Boots for $6.7 billion.
Gross profit margin improved to 28.3 percent from 28.2 percent.
As of Aug. 31, 2012, Walgreens operated 8,385 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
WAG shares, which have been trading between $28.53 and $36.85 over the past year, closed Thursday's regular trading at $36.60.