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Report: Walgreens launches better-for-you foods pilot in San Francisco

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — Walgreens is test-marketing healthier-for-you foods similar to the “food desert” pilot in Chicago across 30 area stores here, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

An Outer Richmond location began stocking fresh food and just-in-time meals last week, the paper reported, and the pilot program will roll out to the remaining stores over the course of the summer.

Earlier this year at a Walgreens shareholders meeting, Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson said he projected that the company could expand the fresh food centers to 400 or more stores in the next several years.

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Charmin Sensitive part of Better Homes and Gardens’ annual Best New Products Awards

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Procter & Gamble’s Charmin Sensitive was voted the best new bathroom tissue of 2011 in a study conducted by BrandSpark International and published in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s third annual Best New Products Awards issue.

The third annual Best New Products Awards are part of the magazine’s June issue. Charmin Sensitive will be featured among the 42 winning consumer products in the categories of health and beauty, food and household care.

"It’s great to hear the product has been so well-received by consumers," said Hailee Hoffman, brand manager for Charmin Sensitive. "Being voted the best new bathroom tissue lets us know that this product delivers a level of quality and comfort for consumers. Each roll contains a touch of soothing lotion with aloe and vitamin E, providing a gentle and comfortable clean."

For a complete list of the 42 winning products, visit BestNewProductAwards.com.

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Walmart Q1 EPS beats guidance, but U.S. comps still a sore spot

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart reported first-quarter earnings that were above the company’s guidance, reflecting stability and strength in global operations, according to company president and CEO Mike Duke.

Walmart’s net income was $3.4 billion, or 98 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $3.3 billion, or 87 cents per diluted share.

Walmart reported net sales for the first quarter of $103.4 billion, an increase of 4.4% from $99.1 billion in the first quarter last year. Net sales for the quarter included a currency exchange rate benefit of $1.3 billion.

Achieving positive same-store sales remains a challenge at Walmart U.S., as this division reported a 1.1% decline due to a decrease in traffic. Though this was within the company’s guidance range, Duke said there is room for improvement.

"We recognize we still have work to do, and comp sales growth remains the greatest priority for me and the entire Walmart U.S. team. The good news is that the plan Bill Simon and his team are executing is gaining traction. We’re focused on delivering everyday low prices and a wide assortment," Duke said.

The company said it expects U.S. same-store sales for the second quarter to range from -1% to 1%.

Walmart had more success with its Sam’s Club division, which reported that comparable sales, without fuel, increased 4.2% for the same period, which was 120 basis points above guidance. The company is expecting Sam’s Club’s comp sales, without fuel, for the second quarter to increase between 3% and 5%.

"Our second quarter is under way, and we expect our strong sales momentum to continue across grocery, home and apparel," said Brian Cornell, Sam’s Club president and CEO.

At Walmart’s international operations, net sales were up 11.5% to almost $28 billion, with all countries except Japan showing sales increases. According to the company, the March 11 earthquake and tsunami negatively affected sales in Japan.

"International remains the key growth driver for our company, and the segment is seeing continued growth through a combination of comp sales and new stores," Duke said. "Mexico, China and Chile had the highest percentage sales increases for the first quarter, compared with last year."

For the second quarter, Walmart is expecting to diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.05 and $1.10, compared with last year’s reported EPS of 97 cents. The company also expects to see continued growth in e-commerce.

"The recent acquisition of Kosmix is now integrated into @Walmartlabs in Silicon Valley and allows us to expand our capabilities in the online social commerce environment," Duke said. "[Last week], we announced that we are acquiring a minority stake in Yihaodian, one of the leading online retailers in China. We expect ongoing activity in the e-commerce area around the world."

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