Walgreens to repurchase $2 billion in stock
DEERFIELD, Ill. The board of directors of Walgreens announced it has authorized a new $2 billion share repurchase program. The program, which expires at the end of 2013, replaces the previous $1 billion plan announced in January 2007, which had approximately $655 million remaining. Since 2004, Walgreens has repurchased more than $1.3 billion of common stock.
The board also declared a regularly quarterly dividend of 13.75 cents per share, a 22.2% increase over the year-ago dividend, and set a long-term dividend payout target of 30% to 35% of net earnings.
“Walgreens generated a record $4.1 billion in cash flow from operations in fiscal 2009 as a result of its stronger operating performance and improved working capital. “We remain confident in our growth strategy and ability to drive earnings growth, increase return on invested capital and generate strong cash flow,” said Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson. “With that, we have outlined a capital policy to provide further clarity on our future uses of cash.”
Costco reports drop in Q4, fiscal-year earnings
ISSAQUAH, Wash. A combination of the recession and foreign exchange rates have hit mass merchandiser Costco hard over the past year.
The Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser reported net sales of $21.89 billion during the 16-week period ended Aug. 30, a 3% decrease from $22.63 billion in net sales that the company had in fourth quarter 2008. Net sales for fiscal year 2009 were $69.89 billion, a 2% decrease from $70.98 billion in fiscal year 2008. Nevertheless, the five-week period ending Oct. 4 saw net sales of $6.85 billion, an increase over the $6.67 billion during the same five-week period last year.
Net income during the fourth quarter was $374 million, compared with $398 million in fourth quarter 2008. Net income for the entire fiscal year was $1.09 billion, compared with $1.28 billion in fiscal year 2008.
“Fiscal 2009 results, including those of the fourth quarter, were negatively impacted by these previously reported factors: ongoing softness in U.S. sales, primarily the result of a weak economic environment; higher employee benefit costs, mainly consisting of higher healthcare eligibility and usage; and lower U.S. dollar amounts of international profits as a result of weaker foreign currencies,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said in a statement.
‘Fright Aid’ coupons help shoppers save
CAMP HILL, Pa. To help customers get their spook on for less this year, Rite Aid is offering in-store “Fright Aid” coupons worth more than $30 off select merchandise including Halloween and fall seasonal goodies.
Smart shoppers can also use their Halloween receipts dated Oct. 17 or earlier to earn additional savings of $5, $10 and $20 gift certificates through Rite Aid’s Rake in the Savings program. Details are available at www.riteaid.com.
“We know many Americans are a bit spooked this year by all the gloomy economic news,” said Bryan Shirtliff, SVP category management at Rite Aid. “But we also know that Halloween is a fun time for many to bury their worries and dress up as someone – or something – else.”
In the past, Saturday holidays such as this year’s have meant increased interest in attending or hosting Halloween parties, Shirtliff adds. The National Retail Federation predicts the average Halloween shopper will spend $56.31 with total holiday spending reaching $4.75 billion.