Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc on Wednesday raised its 2021 profit forecast after posting an 8.4% rise in quarterly profit, boosted by higher sales at its US retail pharmacy stores.
Pharmacies chains such as Walgreens and CVS Health Corp are expecting to benefit from distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and tests. Last quarter, Walgreens said it expected profit from its vaccination program in the second half of 2021.
Walgreens has administered more than 8 million COVID-19 vaccinations including 4 million in March, and has provided some 5 million COVID-19 tests.
The company said same store sales at its US pharmacies rose 4.5% in the second quarter, as it filled 288.5 million prescriptions.
Walgreens raised its 2021 forecast to mid-to-high single digit growth in constant currency adjusted earnings per share from low single-digit adjusted EPS growth.
Net income attributable to Walgreens rose to $1.0 billion, or $1.19 per share, in the second quarter ended Feb. 29, from $946 million, or $1.07 per share, a year earlier.
In January of this year, the company beat analysts' estimates for adjusted quarterly profit, driven by higher sales at its retail pharmacy stores and higher prescription volumes.
It also announced that US drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp plans to buy Walgreens Boots Alliance's distribution business for $6.5 billion to expand in Europe as well as to compete better in the US healthcare sector.
The deal will help Walgreens focus more on core pharmacy unit and its retail business, where sales have tanked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a nearly 30% slump in shares in 2020.