January 6, 2015 / 4:35 PM / 4 years ago

Walgreens December same-store sales beat estimates

Jan 6 (Reuters) - Walgreen Co, the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, reported a better-than-expected jump in December comparable store sales, helped by the month containing one more Wednesday and one fewer Sunday than a year ago and higher sales of flu medicine.

The unit of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc said the extra sales days in December helped increase comparable pharmacy sales by 14.2 percent and boosted the number of prescriptions filled at stores open for at least a year by 7.8 percent.

More people catching the flu in December also helped drive sales, the company said.

Walgreen, which gets more than 60 percent of its revenue from prescription drug sales, also sells non-prescription drugs and retail merchandise.

Smaller rival Rite Aid Corp, which last week also reported better-than-expected comparable sales in December, said it saw a 5.1 percent rise in the number of prescriptions filled at comparable stores.

Total comparable sales at Walgreen rose 9.2 percent, beating the average analyst estimate of 5.5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total sales in December increased 10.2 percent to $7.92 billion.

The company reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit last month, helped by a record number of prescriptions filled and cost savings resulting from its acquisition of the remaining stake in Alliance Boots Holdings Ltd. (Reporting by Ramkumar Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)

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