Walgreen Quarterly Profit Jumps

Walgreen , the largest U.S. drugstore chain, posted higher quarterly profit on Friday, aided by new and acquired stores and stronger sales of prescription medications.

Profit was $431.7 million, or 43 cents a share, in the fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 30, compared with $345.6 million, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected the Deerfield, Illinois-based chain to earn 41 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Walgreen said earlier this month that sales in the quarter rose 16.6% to $12.71 billion.

In the past year, Walgreen acquired the Happy Harry's chain, which added 76 stores to its lineup, and rapidly opened new stores. As of Nov. 30, it operated 5,580 stores, up from 5,068 a year earlier. While CVS has nearly 6,200 stores, its revenue trails Walgreen.

Neither chain has matched the plan started by Wal-Mart Stores to sell certain generic drugs for $4 per monthly prescription.

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