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Rite Aid is back in the black, and analysts are taking notice

BY Michael Johnsen

Rite Aid last week posted a third quarter profit of $61.9 million, marking the first time Rite Aid has been back in the quarterly black since June 2007. The quarterly report beat analyst expectations as the generic wave and retention of Express Scripts customers helped drive better-than-expected adjusted EBIDTA.

It’s certainly a timely Christmas gift that Rite Aid delivered to those shareholders who believed in the Pennsylvania pharmacy operation when it’s stock hovered around $1 per share; in the week following the third quarter conference call Rite Aid’s stock price was up some 40%.

And while that’s a pretty healthy return for those investors, the time to capitalize on their optimism may not be any time in the near future. Now trading around $1.40, that share price may still go up with more Rite Aid good news. And if you’re an avid reader of DSN (and you should be), then you know why — Rite Aid gets well, and it’s that in-depth understanding that will continue to make Rite Aid’s fundamentals even better.

A big driver behind Rite Aid’s improvement can be linked to the chain’s Wellness+ loyalty card program, which had approximately 25 million active members in the quarter, a 5% increase over the same period a year ago. It was the Wellness+ loyalty program that Rite Aid executives credited for being able to retain the “vast majority” of patients gained through the Walgreens-ESI dispute. According to the company, prescriptions filled at stores open at least a year had gained by 3.6%.

As mentioned in DSN‘s recent coverage of Rite Aid’s third-quarter conference call, Wellness+ members accounted for 76% of front-end sales in the quarter, compared with 72% in third quarter 2012, as well as 67% of prescriptions filled, compared with 66% during the same period last year. So it’s not too hard to piece it all together — that 5% increase in Wellness+ members, who incidentally are accounting for roughly the same portion of Rite Aid’s overall sales pie (with a slight improvement across the margin-friendlier front-end), has coincided with Rite Aid moving the sales ledger from red to black.

And Rite Aid is projecting there is still room for those numbers — the actual number of active card holders as well as their collective contribution to the top line — to grow.

Even as Rite Aid realizes better returns from its Wellness+ investment, that’s not the only factor that’s getting analysts to take notice of Rite Aid for calendar year 2013. As BTIG analyst Will Frohnhoefer told the AP: “I think it’s all dovetailing together in a fairly attractive way for [Rite Aid].”

“The company, which has a lot of debt, has improved its balance sheet by refinancing and helped its stores with remodeling,” he said. And Rite Aid is well positioned to capture a significant amount of the additional growth in Medicare rolls, Frohnhefer added.

“Well, I’ll be darned. This past Thursday, Rite Aid reported its first profit in five years, breaking a 21-quarter streak,” wrote Motely Fool blogger Jacob Roche. “Is the tide truly turning for Rite Aid?” Roche suggests maybe so, especially as Rite Aid management raised full-year earnings guidance from a sure loss to a modest loss and possible profit. “Even at the low end [of Rite Aid’s projections], that implies a strong improvement in the fourth quarter, historically one of the weakest,” Roche noted.

If you read on in Roche’s blog, you’ll see that Rite Aid needs to continue building its sales momentum before they maker a believer out of every analyst. But a corner has been turned. And analysts are taking notice. Because Rite Aid is back in the black, and they’re liable to stay there.

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As WAG celebrates Worksite Health Centers AAAHC accreditation, industry can expect further growth

BY Antoinette Alexander

Half of the primary care work-site health centers managed by Walgreens Employer Solutions Group have received AAAHC accreditation as patient-centered medical homes, with plans to have all of the company’s employer-based primary care centers accredited in the first half of 2013.

The news speaks to the quality of care delivered at Walgreens worksites, and as employers increasingly look for ways to curb healthcare costs and boost employee productivity, one can expect to see greater growth of such facilities going forward.

In fact, a 2012 survey released by global professional services company Towers Watson found that a significant number of U.S. employers with onsite health centers are planning to expand the scope of services offered, as well as the audiences eligible to use the centers.

According to the survey, most companies (62%) establish or keep their centers open to gain improvements in employee productivity that come from eliminating visits to offsite medical providers. Other factors for establishing a center include cost reduction (57%) and improved access to care (46%).

The Towers Watson study also found that a majority of onsite health centers offer biometric screenings (81%), wellness counseling (73%), urgent care and first-responder services (70% each), and primary care services (63%). However, many companies plan to add new capabilities in 2013. Most notably, 28% of employers plan to add telemedicine, up from 8% that currently offer the service. In addition, 8% plan to add primary care services (63% currently offer); 6% plan to add full onsite pharmacies (24% currently offer), and 6% plan to add physical therapy (41% currently offer).

Survey respondents also indicated that they plan to allow more spouses and children of employees to use their centers and are also planning to allow former employees on COBRA, as well as temporary and contract employees, to use their centers.

Onsite health centers also can play a vital role in improving adherence. The reality is that improving medication adherence means healthier, more productive employees. Underscoring this point is a 2009 study by Take Care Health Systems, which found that those patients using workplace primary care and pharmacy services have higher adherence rates to medications for chronic conditions — nearly 10% higher — compared with patients treated in the community.

 

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K.MARLON says:
May-17-2013 11:20 am

No doubt Walgreens Employer Solutions Group offers various health care opportunities to the victims and helps to repair the current condition of health care system by which people are getting beneficial health care services with affordable piece of price. Through the help of urgent care and health care centers this group is quite eligible to set up an advanced database of health care service in front of the people and provides beneficial health care solution.

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Publix announces second new supermarket for Charlotte, N.C. area

BY Michael Johnsen

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets on Thursday announced it has signed a lease for a second store in the Charlotte, N.C. area. The store will be located at the intersection of South Boulevard and Iverson Way in Charlotte.

“We are excited to bring Publix to even more customers and associates in North Carolina and look forward to continued growth in the state and in our current operating areas,” stated Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director.

The shopping center, the Shops at South Line, will feature a 54,975-sq.-ft. Publix supermarket as well as other shops and restaurants. The project also includes two levels of underground parking in addition to ground level parking.

Publix announced in September its first North Carolina store in Ballantyne, located at Providence Road West and Johnston Road, opening in 2014.

The grand opening date for the Shops at South Line location will depend on several factors, including permitting and completion of the store’s construction; however, the opening is tentatively planned for late 2014.

 

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