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Rite Aid reports Q1 results for FY2010

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid Corp. reported revenues of $6.5 billion and a net loss of $98.4 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, for its fiscal first quarter ended May 30, 2009.

Adjusted EBITDA was $249.2 million, or 3.8% of revenues.

“We are pleased with our first quarter results as we continued to build on the improvements we made in the last several quarters. We grew pharmacy sales, improved adjusted EBITDA by operating more efficiently and continued to take costs out of the business, while at the same time, our customer satisfaction ratings improved,” said Mary Sammons, Rite Aid chairman and CEO.

Revenues for the 13-week first quarter were $6.5 billion, versus revenues of $6.6 billion in the prior-year first quarter. Revenues declined 1.2%, primarily as a result of store closings.

Same-store sales for the quarter increased 0.6% over the prior year 13-week period, consisting of a 1.6% decrease in front-end and a 1.6% increase in pharmacy. Pharmacy sales included an approximate 448 basis point negative impact from new generic introductions. The number of prescriptions filled increased 2.2%. Prescription sales accounted for 68.2% of total drug store sales and third-party prescription revenue was 96.3% of pharmacy sales.

Excluding the acquired Brooks Eckerd stores, same-store sales for the 13-week first quarter increased 1.5% over the prior-year period, with front-end decreasing 1.4% and pharmacy growing 3.1%.

At the former Brooks Eckerd stores, same-store sales for the 13-week first quarter decreased 1.3% over the prior-year period, with front-end decreasing 2% and pharmacy decreasing 1.1%.

Net loss for the first quarter was $98.4 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, compared with last year’s first-quarter net loss of $156.6 million, or 20 cents per diluted share. Contributing to this quarter’s net loss was a $67 million noncash charge related to store closings partially offset by a $20 million gain on asset sales, including prescription files.

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Hallmark announces e-card subscription plan

BY Allison Cerra

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Hallmark Cards announced its first e-card subscription plan, which offers consumers unlimited sending of exclusive e-cards for $9.99 per year.

The plan encompasses all of Hallmark’s premium e-cards, including those featuring hoops&yoyo and Maxine, as well as licensed e-cards with hit music and such TV shows and movies as “The Office,” “Madagascar” and “Star Wars.” Premium Hallmark e-cards sell individually for 99 cents each.

Consumers can personalize the e-cards when it is convenient, and Hallmark will send them anytime during the course of the subscription. Hallmark’s reminder service and address book make it easy to remember important dates and events.

“We know people enjoy connecting with their friends and family by using e-cards featuring their favorite characters, movies and music,” noted Hallmark product manager Shelley Mathews. “This plan makes it easy and convenient to send those e-cards when they’re needed. Consumers can select and address their e-cards ahead of time, and Hallmark will send them out right on time.”

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Wal-Mart names chief diversity officer

BY Allison Cerra

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart has appointed L. Mecole “Cole” Brown to serve as chief diversity officer. Brown will be responsible for the oversight and coordination of the diversity strategy for the company’s U.S. business.

Brown joined Walmart’s legal team in 2002, and has held senior positions in Sam’s Club and Walmart’s office of diversity. Brown was appointed to VP employment practices in August 2007.

Brown succeeds Charlyn Jarrells Porter, who served as the company’s first chief diversity officer from 2004 to 2009. Porter announced her retirement in March, after more than 16 years with the company.

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