Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit and sales, boosted by a rush for COVID-19 vaccinations and testing during a recent Omicron-led surge in COVID-19 cases.
Governments and health authorities around the world continue to push for increased testing and vaccine booster doses as the highly transmissible Omicron sub-variant BA.2 has prompted surges in cases in many countries in Europe and Asia, and raised concerns over a potential new wave in the United States.
In the second quarter ended 28 February, Walgreens administered 11.8 million vaccinations and 6.6 million tests. The company has forecast 30 million vaccinations this year at its sites.
Shares of the drugstore chain were, however, marginally lower at $47.10 in volatile premarket trading, after Walgreens kept its 2022 forecast of low-single digit earnings growth unchanged.
The company's US pharmacy sales fell 3.3% in the quarter, hurt by a weak performance in its mail-order AllianceRx Walgreens business.
Total sales rose 3% to $33.77 billion, beating estimates of $33.40 billion.
Excluding items, the company earned $1.59 per share, compared with Refinitiv IBES estimates of $1.40 per share.
Boots UK retail comparable sales increased 22% during the quarter, with market share gains across all categories, led by beauty.
Boots.com saw digital sales up 60% compared to pre-COVID-19 levels in the second quarter of fiscal 2020.
Elsewhere in Germany, the company's wholesale business sales grew by 2.5% in this period.
Walgreens said the strategic review of its UK-based Boots business, which began in January this year, was progressing.
News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM – your source for the latest retail news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.