Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc raised its full-year adjusted profit growth forecast and beat first-quarter earnings estimates on Thursday, as the US pharmacy major bets on sustained demand for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.
Governments and health authorities around the world are pushing for increased vaccinations and testing as the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant threatens to disrupt industries and overburden healthcare systems.
The company administered 15.6 million vaccinations and 6.5 million tests in the first quarter.
Net income attributable to Walgreens was $3.58 billion, or $4.13 per share, in the quarter ended 30 November, compared to a loss of $308 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier, largely due to a one-time charge of $1.5 billion.
The company increased its full-year adjusted profit forecast to low-single digit growth, from flat previously.
Chief executive officer, Rosalind Brewer, commented, said, "First quarter results exceeded our expectations, with a very encouraging performance across all our business segments. I am particularly excited about the progress we’re making in building out Walgreens Health. Our majority investments in VillageMD and Shields closed during the quarter, and we’re rolling out VillageMD primary care co-locations and Walgreens Health Corners at pace.
Comparable pharmacy sales at Boots UK increased 8.8% year-on-year, reflecting stronger demand for pharmacy services.
Boots UK's comparable retail sales increased 16.3% compared with the same period last year as footfall improved but traffic remained below pre-COVID-19 levels.
Boots.com continued to perform well, with digital sales in the first quarter almost doubling compared with the equivalent quarter pre-COVID-19, the company added.
Brewer said, "The strong start to the fiscal year reinforces our confidence in the future, and as a result, we are raising our guidance for the full year and increasing investments in our people. Looking ahead, we are well positioned for sustainable, long-term value creation."
In October 2021, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc reported a 68% surge in fourth-quarter profit due to higher sales at its pharmacy stores in the United States and the United Kingdom.