Why Rite Aid Earnings Matter Less Than the Walgreens Merger

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Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) reported second-quarter fiscal 2017 results before markets opened Thursday. The drug store chain reported quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.03 on revenues of $8.03 billion. In the same period a year ago, Rite Aid reported adjusted EPS of $0.06 on revenue of $7.66 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.03 and $8.17 billion in revenue.

On a GAAP basis, Rite Aid posted EPS of $0.01 for the quarter on net income of $14.8 million. Adjusted EBITDA dropped by $34.1 million year over year, which the company attributed to a $51 million decline in the retail pharmacy business “resulting from lower gross profit and higher SG&A expenses.” Adjusted EBITDA of $16.8 million in the pharmacy services business partially offset the decline.

The company said last December that it would not update or issue guidance for fiscal year 2017 while the merger with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) is being reviewed. Rite Aid continues to say that it expects the transaction to close in the second half of calendar year 2016.

We reported earlier this month that the chances of the deal being approved were getting better. Walgreens may have to sell more than 500 stores to meet anti-trust requirements, but the total to be sold now appears to below 1,000.

Analysts are looking for third fiscal quarter EPS of $0.06 and revenues of $8.37 billion. For the full year the consensus estimates call for EPS of $0.16 and revenues of $32.97 billion.

Same-store sales for the first quarter fell 2.5% year over year on a decrease of 3.6% in pharmacy sales and and a 0.1% increase in front-end sales. The introduction of new generic drugs cost the company 101 basis points in pharmacy sales. Prescriptions filled rose slipped by 1.8% year over year and prescription sales accounted for 68.5% of total sales and third-party prescription revenue accounted for 98.1% of pharmacy sales.

Shares were up about 0.4% in premarket trading Thursday morning, at $8.14 in a 52-week range of $5.88 to $8.74. Thomson Reuters had a consensus 12-month price target of $8.83 before results were announced. Walgreens is paying $9.00 a share to acquire Rite Aid.