DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) projected single-digit profit growth in fiscal 2021 after reporting better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings, helped by higher sales at U.S. stores.
U.S. store sales in the quarter ended August 31 advanced 3.6% from the year-ago period to $27 billion, with same-store sales rising by the same amount.
WBA said it anticipates strong adjusted profit growth in the second half of the new fiscal year, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic diminish and its recovery takes hold.
“I am pleased to report results that came in at the high end of our expectations as we continue to adapt and transform our business model to changing customer needs,” said executive vice chairman and chief executive officer Stefano Pessina. “Despite uncertainty amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing gradual improvement in key U.S. and U.K. markets and continued strong performance in our wholesale business. I’m also encouraged by the accelerating growth in our e-commerce platforms. Now, more than ever, our pharmacy-centered business is at the heart of community health care, and we are expanding on that role for the future. I continue to be inspired by the tireless efforts of our teams as they support and care for our customers, patients and communities, while accelerating progress on our clear set of strategic priorities. Looking ahead, we are projecting adjusted EPS growth in fiscal 2021.”
Fourth quarter adjusted earnings per share were $1.02, down 27.9% on a constant currency basis, but above analysts’ forecast of 96 cents per share.
Fourth quarter net earnings decreased 44.9% to $373 million, and net earnings per share decreased 42.8% to 43 cents. Adjusted net earnings decreased 30.9% to $887 million, down 30.6% on a constant currency basis. The decreases in net earnings and adjusted net earnings were primarily due to an estimated adverse COVID-19 impact of 46 cents, lower U.S. pharmacy gross profit and year-on-year bonus changes.