A pedestrian passes in front of a Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. store in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walgreens Boots Alliance beat Wall Street earnings expectations Thursday, sending shares up about 4% in early trading.

Here’s what Walgreens reported for its fiscal second quarter of 2020 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.52 adjusted, vs. $1.46 expected
  • Revenue: $35.82 billion, vs. $35.27 billion expected

The global pharmacy chain’s second quarter ended before the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose significantly and changed customers’ shopping patterns. In recent weeks, however, it has been one of the retailers where customers have gone to stock up on over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and items, such as cleaning supplies and disposable gloves.

Before the pandemic, Walgreens said it was on track with its 2020 forecast to have roughly flat growth. It said the impact of the outbreak is unclear, and it will provide updates in its next earnings report.

In the second quarter ended Feb. 29, net income fell to $946 million, or $1.07 per share, from $1.16 billion, or $1.24 per share, a year earlier.

After adjustments, Walgreens earned $1.52 per share, which was more than the $1.46 per share analysts were expecting, according to Refinitiv. 

Walgreens said revenue grew to $35.82 billion, from $34.53 billion last year, and higher than the $35.27 billion analysts expected.

In the quarter, sales in Walgreens’ U.S. retail pharmacy business increased 3.8% to $27.2 billion over the year-ago quarter. Excluding the impact of leap day, same-store sales rose 2.7% from last year.

Pharmacy sales drove the increase. The company attributed the growth to the larger number of prescriptions it filled and higher drug prices. Same-store pharmacy sales rose 3.7%. Prescriptions filled in comparable stores were up 4.9% from a year ago.

For nonpharmacy products, same-store sales were up by 0.6% in the quarter compared to a year prior. The company attributed the slight growth to sales of health and wellness products during a busy cough, cold and flu season. Excluding tobacco and e-cigarettes, same-store sales of nonpharmacy products increased 1.9%

In the past week, Walgreens has added new ways for U.S. customers to buy essential items while socially distancing. Customers can now buy more than 60 popular items, such as cleaning supplies, cough and cold medications and formula, at its more than 7,300 pharmacy drive-thrus in the U.S. It also has a partnership with Postmates to make contactless deliveries to customers’ homes. 

Its competitor, CVS Health, has also seen a surge of demand because of the pandemic and plans to fill 50,000 jobs for store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and customer service professionals.

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