Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA 2.42% said its overseas business struggled again in its latest quarter as the Covid-19 pandemic cut into customer traffic in the U.K.
The drugstore chain on Thursday said retail sales at its Boots U.K. unit fell more than 29% on a comparable basis, with the coronavirus especially reducing consumer visits at the stores on major shopping streets, in train stations and in airports.
The Boots U.K. business has emerged as a source of concern for investors and a challenge for the Deerfield, Ill., company, which is primarily tied to the U.S. market. In July, Walgreens said it would cut about 4,000 jobs in the U.K. and recorded $2 billion in impairment charges tied to the Boots business.
Walgreens said sales in its retail-pharmacy unit in the U.S. totaled $27 billion in the latest quarter, up 3.6%. Filled prescriptions increased 3.6% on a comparable basis and demand for health, personal-care and personal-protective products rose. Those gains were partially offset by weaker sales for beauty items, according to the company.
Overall, sales for its fiscal-fourth quarter that ended Aug. 31 rose to $34.75 billion from $33.95 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $34.37 billion for the latest period.
Walgreens said profit fell to $373 million, or 43 cents a share, from $677 million, or 75 cents a share, the year earlier. After adjustments, the company reported earnings of $1.02 cents a share, better than expectations from analysts.
Shares rose 2.1% in premarket trading.
The company said it believes the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to hamper financial results during the first half of its new fiscal year, but it anticipates better conditions after that, with adjusted-profit growth picking up in the second half.
“The company anticipates a gradual reduction in Covid-19 impacts,” it said.
Write to Micah Maidenberg at [email protected]
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