Rite Aid November sales fall and miss estimates

AP News
Posted: Dec 03, 2009 11:22 AM

Rite Aid Corp. on Thursday said sales at drugstores open at least one year fell in November, as generic drug launches hurt results at its pharmacies and sales at the front end of stores decreased.

Rite Aid said sales at locations open at least one year were down 0.8 percent for the five weeks ended Nov. 28. At those stores, pharmacy revenue was unchanged, and Rite Aid said recent launches of low-cost generic drugs cut into pharmacy revenue by about 1.9 percent. "Front end" sales of cosmetics and other items slipped 2.4 percent.

Sales at older stores are considered a key measurement of retailer health, and the results fell short of Wall Street estimates. According to Thomson Reuters, analysts expected growth of 1.8 percent, including improvement of 1.3 percent in front end sales and 2 percent in pharmacy sales.

Rite Aid ran 4,801 drugstores at the end of November, compared with 4,914 a year ago.

For the five-week period, Rite Aid said total sales slid 2.1 percent to $2.43 billion from $2.48 billion. For the fiscal third quarter, sales at older stores fell 0.5 percent, with front end sales down 2.5 percent and pharmacy revenue up 0.4 percent.

Total revenue for the quarter fell 1.8 percent, to $6.33 billion from $6.44 billion a year ago. Analysts expected $6.38 billion in sales.

Rite Aid is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Dec. 17. Analysts are expecting the company to take a loss of 19 cents per share. In morning trading, its stock rose 2 cents to $1.29.