UPDATE 1-Rite Aid returns to profit, raises forecast
* Quarterly profit of $0.07 a share; Wall St expected loss
* Sees full-year same-store sales down 0.3-0.9 percent
* Shares up 12 percent in premarket trading
(Adds outlook, stock activity)
Dec 20 (Reuters) - Rite Aid Corp reported its first quarterly profit in more than five years on Thursday, helped by growth in the number of prescriptions filled and higher comparable sales of general merchandise at its stores.
Shares of the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain were up 12 percent at $1.16 after rising higher in premarket trading.
Rite Aid also raised its forecast for the year, moving away from calling for a loss to raising the possibility of turning an annual profit, even though sales may come in weaker than it previously anticipated.
Rite Aid reported net income of $60.5 million, or 7 cents a share, for the third quarter ended Dec. 1, compared with a year-earlier loss of $54.5 million, or 6 cents a share.
Analysts on average expected a loss of 3 cents per share in the latest quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Rite Aid's last profit was in the quarter ended in May 2007.
Third-quarter revenue fell nearly 1.2 percent to $6.24 billion, as the company has been closing some locations. Sales also suffered from Superstorm Sandy, which forced it to close some stores.
Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.5 percent. Same-store sales of general merchandise increased by 1.1 percent, while same-store sales at the pharmacy counters declined 2.7 percent.
Rite Aid said the number of prescriptions filled in existing stores had risen 3.6 percent.
Rite Aid raised its outlook for the fiscal year, which now ranges from a net loss of 5 cents to a profit of 3 cents per share. In September, it had forecast a loss of between 9 cents and 23 cents.
Rite Aid also said it expected fiscal 2013 sales of $25.15 billion to $25.3 billion, with same-store sales down 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent. In September, it had called for sales of $25.1 billion to $25.4 billion, with same-store sales down 1 percent to up 0.25 percent.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago and Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)