Walgreens Sweetens Q1 Earnings Beat With Cost-Cutting Plan

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) reported its first-quarter financial results and announced a cost-savings plan before the markets opened on Thursday. The company said that it had $1.46 in earnings per share (EPS) and $33.79 billion in revenue, which compares with consensus estimates that called for $1.43 in EPS and $33.78 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, the retailer said it had EPS of $1.28 on revenue of $30.74 billion.

During the first quarter, the company declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.44 per share. The dividend was payable December 12 to stockholders of record as of November 12.

In terms of its segments, the firm reported as follows:

  • Retail Pharmacy USA had first quarter sales of $25.7 billion, an increase of 14.4% over the year-ago quarter.
  • Retail Pharmacy International had first quarter sales of $2.9 billion, a decrease of 5.9% from the year-ago quarter, reflecting an adverse currency impact of 2.3%.
  • Pharmaceutical Wholesale had first quarter sales of $5.7 billion, a decrease of 0.2% from the year-ago quarter, entirely due to a negative currency impact of 6.8%.

Looking ahead to the 2019 fiscal full year, Walgreens expects to see EPS growth in the range of 7% to 12%. Consensus estimates call for $6.54 in EPS and $137.74 billion in revenue for the year.

Stefano Pessina, executive vice chair and CEO, commented:

We are pleased to have delivered double digit percentage growth in earnings per share in the first quarter, including solid results in the U.S. We continue to focus on and invest in transforming our business. We have made good progress on partnerships, including advancing our collaborations with Kroger, FedEx and Humana and, earlier this week, we announced an initiative with Verily to further expand our health care offering. Today we are reaffirming our fiscal 2019 guidance and announcing the launch of a new transformational cost management program, which is targeting annual cost savings of more than $1 billion by the end of the third year, to better position ourselves to meet our long term targets.

Shares of Walgreens closed Wednesday at $73.29, with a consensus analyst price target of $78.57 and a 52-week trading range of $59.07 to $86.31. Following the announcement, the stock was down about 2% at $72.00 in early trading indications Thursday.