Rite Aid Corp. saw same-store sales rise in December, marking its first monthly comparable-store gain in well over a year.


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Rite Aid posts first same-store sales gain in over a year

January 4th, 2011

CAMP HILL, Pa. – Rite Aid Corp. saw same-store sales rise in December, marking its first monthly comparable-store gain in well over a year.

The drug store chain said Tuesday that for the four weeks ended Dec. 25, same-store sales edged up 0.6% versus a year earlier, compared with declines of 1.3% in November and 1.7% in October. The retailer posted virtually flat comparable-store results in March 2010, but its last reported same-store sales increase was in May 2009, also a 0.6% uptick.

"Rite Aid reported a December comp of +0.6%, better than the -0.8% consensus estimate and our -1.0% estimate. This was an encouraging result in light of management's fourth-quarter guidance reduction on slower sales expectations," Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Bill Dreher wrote in a research note on Rite Aid's December results.

In December 2010, same-store sales rose 0.1% in the front end and 1% in the pharmacy. Rite Aid said the pharmacy results reflect a negative impact of 201 basis points from new generic drug introductions. In addition, prescriptions filled at comparable stores gained 0.9% over the prior-year period.

Total drug store sales in December, however, were down 0.5% to $2.08 billion from $2.09 billion a year ago, according to Rite Aid.

For the 43-week year-to-date period ended Dec. 25, comparable-store sales decreased 1.1%, including declines of 0.6% in the front end and 1.3% in the pharmacy. Overall drug store sales for the year to date were down 2.1% to nearly $20.77 billion.

As of Dec. 25, Rite Aid operated 4,726 stores, compared with 4,801 stores in the year-ago period.

*Editor's Note: Analyst comment added on Jan. 5.

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