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Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix recalls Halloween Squish Ball due to potential choking hazard

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

TORONTO — Canada’s Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix is recalling the Halloween Squish Ball Novelty Toy, product number 057800879657, because the product may burst when squeezed and has small parts, which could detach posing a potential choking hazard, the company has announced.  

This product was sold at Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix stores beginning Sept. 6, 2014.  

The retailer stated that it has not received any report of injuries related to this product.

Customers who have purchased this item are asked to return it to their local Shoppers Drug Mart or Pharmaprix store for a full refund, with or without the receipt. For questions related this product recall, contact Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix customer service at 1-800-746-7737.
 

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Walgreens outlook positive as company prepares for another ‘milestone’ year

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Shares of Walgreens were up about $1.50 to more than $61 per share as the market opened Tuesday morning following the company's fourth-quarter earnings call. The tone of the conference call was positive, reflecting the outlook for the company in fiscal 2015. "Overall the [fourth] quarter have met our expectations and closed down a challenging, important and historic year for Walgreens," Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO told analysts. "We recognize we have more to do, as fiscal '15 is another milestone year for our company."
 
 
Looking forward, Walgreens is well positioned to take advantage of industry tailwinds, Wasson said. Specifically, Walgreens expects to expand its offerings to an aging population, serve more patients with chronic conditions, capitalize on the consumerization of healthcare, improve its generic penetration and meet a growing demand for a personalized shopping experience. 
 
"With our suite of healthcare services and team of professionals in our communities, with our approach to omnichannel access and the strength of our loyalty program, and most important, the potential of a strategic partnership with Alliance Boots, we are positioned well to serve the needs of a changing customer and industry," Wasson said. 
 
Walgreens is also prepared against industry headwinds expected in 2015, Wasson said. "We are realistic about the headwinds we face for the year," he said. Wasson identified a cautious consumer, ongoing reimbursement pressure, generic drug inflation and significant step-downs from Medicare Part D reimbursement rates as the headwinds facing the company in the coming year. "The market reality certainly creates a challenge for us in fiscal 2015, but one that we understand, accept and are driven to meet."
 
Looking back, Walgreens reached several significant milestones through fiscal 2014. The company's Well Experience store formats now total 750 with another 1,000 to come in fiscal 2015. "These formats offer more innovative health and wellness products and solutions, provide a private consultation room to receive health services and speak to your trusted pharmacist and offer personal care on everyday items our customers value," Wasson said. 
 
And Walgreens now fields 14 flagship locations across nine major markets. Walgreens' flagship locations help capture the company's front-end aspirations as the Chicago retailer reshapes the drug store shopping experience. "These flagships, along with our Well Experience stores, bring a real vibrancy to our markets and build awareness of our brand," Wasson said. 
 
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G.Vimont says:
Sep-30-2014 10:23 am

Please --- you have to wait several hours after the opening bell to see how investors are treating any earnings reports. At just about 2 hours after the opening bell the stock is fluctuating quite a bit -- even being on the down side.

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Walgreens reports $76.4 billion in annual sales, up 5.8%

BY Michael Johnsen

 

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Tuesday morning posted fourth-quarter sales of $19.1 billion, representing an increase of 6.2% compared to the year-ago period, while sales for the fiscal 2014 ended Aug. 31 increased 5.8% to a record $76.4 billion. 
 
Front-end comparable store sales increased 1.3% in the fourth quarter compared with last year’s fourth quarter. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2.2% and basket size increased 3.5%, while total sales in comparable stores increased 5.4%. Walgreens Balance Rewards loyalty program reached 82 million active members at the end of this year’s fourth quarter.
 
Prescription sales, which accounted for 65.7% of sales in the quarter, increased 9.3% compared with last year’s quarter, while prescription sales in comparable stores increased 7.8%. The company filled 211 million prescriptions in the quarter, an increase of 4.2% over last year’s fourth quarter. Prescriptions filled in comparable stores increased 3.9% in the quarter.
 
In fiscal 2014, Walgreens filled a record 856 million prescriptions. The company continued to see strong growth in prescriptions filled for Medicare Part D patients, which increased 9.2% in the fourth quarter compared with last year’s quarter. Since the beginning of fiscal 2013, Walgreens Medicare Part D prescription market share has grown more than twice as fast as its overall retail prescription market share, the company stated.
 
“Our fourth quarter performance was in line with our expectation, recognizing we have much more to do. We closed the fiscal year by exercising the option for the second step of our strategic transaction with Alliance Boots, completing the transition of our pharmaceutical distribution to AmerisourceBergen and driving continued improvement in our daily living business that resulted in our largest year-over-year quarterly and fiscal-year sales increases in three years,” stated Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “While continuing to work through pharmacy margin pressure, we were able to achieve improved top-line pharmacy growth as our retail pharmacy market share for the fiscal year increased 30 basis points to 19%. Finally, we maintained solid expense control in the fourth quarter and are moving forward with the implementation of our previously announced cost-reduction initiative to achieve $1 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2017.”
 
Walgreens realized a net loss determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter of $239 million, compared with net earnings of $657 million in the same quarter a year ago. Net loss per share for the quarter was 25 cents, compared with earnings of 69 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter. This year’s quarter was negatively impacted by an $866 million, or 90 cents per diluted share, non-cash loss on the amendment and exercise during the quarter of the company’s Alliance Boots call option.
 
This non-cash loss resulted from a reduction in the amended option’s fair value (without regard to its strategic value) compared with the original option’s book value, primarily due to the reduction in the duration of the amended option and the appreciation since the original valuation in the price of Walgreens stock to be used as partial consideration for the purchase of the remaining 55% ownership interest in Alliance Boots.
 
Adjusted fiscal 2014 fourth quarter net earnings were $714 million, a 1.7% increase. Adjusted net earnings per diluted share for the quarter increased 1.4% to 74 cents, compared with 73 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter. This year’s fourth quarter earnings adjustments had a net positive impact of $953 million or 99 cents per diluted share. 
 
Adjusted net earnings for fiscal 2014 ended Aug. 31 were $3.2 billion, an increase of 6.1% compared with adjusted net earnings of $3 billion in fiscal 2013. Adjusted net earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2014 increased 5.1% to $3.28, compared with $3.12 per diluted share in fiscal 2013. Earnings adjustments for the fiscal year had a net positive impact of $1.2 billion, or $1.28 per diluted share.
 
The combined synergies for Walgreens and its strategic partner, Alliance Boots, in fiscal 2014 were $491 million. The joint synergy program is estimated to deliver fiscal 2015 combined synergies of approximately $650 million. Alliance Boots contributed 6 cents per diluted share to Walgreens fourth quarter 2014 adjusted net earnings. The company estimates that the accretion from Alliance Boots in the first quarter of fiscal 2015 will be an adjusted 10 to 11 cents per diluted share, including a 2-cent benefit related to Alliance Boots’ acquisition of its partner’s interest in a joint venture. This estimate does not include amortization expense, the impact of AmerisourceBergen warrants or one-time transaction costs. 
 
During fiscal 2014, the company generated operating cash flow of $3.9 billion and free cash flow of $2.8 billion. Walgreens also increased its quarterly dividend rate declared in August by 7.1% to 33.75 cents per share, consistent with the company’s goal of returning cash to shareholders. This marked the 39th consecutive year in which Walgreens increased its shareholder dividend.
 
GAAP total gross profit dollars increased $136 million, or 2.6%, compared with the year-ago fourth quarter, with gross profit margins decreasing 90 basis points versus the year-ago quarter to 28 as a percentage of sales. Adjusted gross profit dollars increased $133 million, or 2.6%, compared with the year-ago fourth quarter.
 
Pharmacy gross profit dollars were negatively impacted by lower third-party reimbursement and generic drug price inflation, which were partially offset by an increase in the brand-to-generic drug conversions compared with the year-ago quarter. Both pharmacy and front-end margins benefitted from purchasing synergies from the company’s joint venture with Alliance Boots. 
 
The company opened or acquired 46 new drug stores in the fourth quarter compared with 33 in the year-ago quarter. In fiscal 2014, Walgreens added a net gain of 21 new drug stores in addition to 70 net new drug stores through acquisitions.
 
As of Aug. 31, Walgreens operated 8,309 locations with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company has 8,207 drug stores nationwide, a net gain of 91 compared with a year ago. Walgreens also operates infusion and respiratory services facilities, specialty pharmacies and mail service facilities, and manages more than 400 Healthcare Clinic and provider practice locations around the country. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com.

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