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State

Key Walgreen revenue metric increases 7.6 percent in April

DEERFIELD (AP) – Walgreen’s revenue from established drugstores topped analyst expectations and jumped 7.6 percent last month, helped by a later Easter holiday that also hurt sales growth in March.

The Deerfield-based company said Monday that revenue from the front-end of its stores, or the area outside the pharmacy, rose 8.2 percent in April, in part because Easter fell on April 20 as opposed to March 31 last year. Easter tends to boost sales in the front-end of drugstores, which sell candy and other items for the holiday.

Walgreen Co. competitor Rite Aid Corp. said last week it saw a similar benefit in April. Both drugstore chains also reported drops in front-end sales during March.

Walgreen and Rite Aid are the nation’s largest and third-largest drugstore chains, respectively, based on the number of stores. The second-largest, CVS Caremark Corp., doesn’t report monthly sales publicly.

Revenue from stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of a retailer’s financial health. It strips away the volatility of recently opened or closed stores.

Walgreen also said Monday that pharmacy revenue from its established stores climbed 7.3 percent last month compared to April 2013.

Analysts expected, on average, a nearly 6.3 percent rise in overall revenue from established stores and about 6.6 percent and 6 percent increases from the front-end and pharmacy, respectively, according to Thomson Reuters.

Walgreen ran 8,231 drugstores at the end of April, or 145 more than it did at the same time last year. Counting the new stores, total April sales climbed nearly 9 percent to $6.49 billion.

Shares of Walgreen edged up 59 cents to $69.45 on Monday morning, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell slightly. The company’s stock had already climbed about 20 percent so far this year, as of Friday.

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