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Walgreen Profit Rises, Helped by Cost Cuts

Walgreen, one of the largest U.S. drugstore chains, posted higher quarterly profit Monday, helped by cost-cutting measures and an extra day in the quarter due to leap year.

Walgreens Store
Nick Ut
Walgreens Store

The company has been trying to control the pace of salary expense increases and other costs as sales growth has slowed due to the sluggish U.S. economy.

The company said profit was $685.9 million, or 69 cents a share, for its fiscal second quarter, ended Feb. 29, compared with $651.9 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average forecast 67 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Sales rose 10.5 percent to $15.4 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.7 percent, with prescription same-store sales up 5.2 percent. Same-store sales of general merchandise, also known as front-end same-store sales, were up 4 percent.

Walgreen has been trying to expand beyond its traditional drugstore business and last week created a health and wellness division to manage health centers and pharmacies at company work sites.

The company also announced plans to acquire I-trax, which runs health and fitness centers.

On Monday, Walgreen said it reached an agreement to be the exclusive specialty pharmacy provider to Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefits management company.

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