DEERFIELD, Ill., Sept. 28, 2012 - Walgreen Co. (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) today announced earnings and sales results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 ended Aug. 31.
Net earnings determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for the fiscal 2012 fourth quarter were $353 million or 39 cents per diluted share, compared with $792 million or 87 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.
Adjusted fiscal 2012 fourth quarter net earnings were $553 million or 63 cents per diluted share, compared with adjusted net earnings of $599 million or 66 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter. This year's adjusted fourth quarter results exclude the negative impacts of 9 cents per diluted share related to the company's transaction with Alliance Boots GmbH, 10 cents per diluted share from the quarter's LIFO provision and 5 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs. The company intends to account for its 45 percent investment in Alliance Boots using the equity method of accounting on a one-month lag basis. Because the closing of this investment occurred within one month of the company's fiscal year end, the results of operations of Alliance Boots GmbH are not reflected in the company's reported net earnings for the fiscal quarter or year ended Aug. 31, 2012.
Last year's adjusted fourth quarter results exclude an after-tax gain of 30 cents per diluted share associated with the company's sale of its pharmacy benefits management business, Walgreens Health Initiatives, Inc. (WHI), and the negative impacts of 4 cents per diluted share from the quarter's LIFO provision and 5 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs.
Compared with the prior year periods, the negative impact of not being part of the Express Scripts, Inc. pharmacy provider network, net of associated cost reductions, was 6 cents per diluted share in this year's fourth quarter and 21 cents per diluted share for the entire fiscal year, which matched the company's previously stated estimate.
"This was a challenging, but very important year for Walgreens, and we finished with a tough quarter. While we controlled costs and generated strong cash flow in the fourth quarter, our performance also reflected a strategic shift in promotional spending, a continued economically challenged consumer, and the impact from Express Scripts," said Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson. "Entering the new fiscal year, we believe we are positioned for growth as we benefit from the launch of our Balance Rewards loyalty program, our reentry into the Express Scripts pharmacy provider network and our execution of the Alliance Boots strategic partnership."
Fiscal Year Results
Net earnings determined in accordance with GAAP for fiscal 2012 were $2.1 billion or $2.42 per diluted share. In fiscal year 2011, net earnings in accordance with GAAP were $2.7 billion or $2.94 per diluted share.
Adjusted net earnings for fiscal year 2012 were $2.6 billion or $2.93 per diluted share, compared with $2.7 billion or $2.93 per diluted share in fiscal 2011. Fiscal 2012 adjusted net earnings exclude the negative impacts of 11 cents per diluted share related to the company's transaction with Alliance Boots, 22 cents per diluted share from the year's LIFO provision and 18 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs. Fiscal 2011 adjusted net earnings exclude 30 cents per diluted share associated with the gain on the sale of WHI and the negative impacts of 14 cents per diluted share from the year's LIFO provision and 15 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs.
During fiscal 2012, the company returned more than $1.9 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. The company also delivered record fiscal year operating and free cash flow of $4.4 billion and $2.9 billion, respectively, and increased its quarterly dividend rate in June 2012 by 22.2 percent to 27.5 cents per share. The increase was consistent with the company's goal of returning cash to shareholders, and Walgreens has now increased its dividend for 37 consecutive years.
"As we faced the challenges of the last fiscal year, we focused on the execution of our core business," said Wasson. "Our overall sales in fiscal 2012 were nearly flat. We controlled our SG&A dollar growth while making investments related to store IT infrastructure, the launch of our loyalty program and the opening of 169 new stores and our growing Well Experience store base of nearly 350 locations. We delivered record operating cash flow and record free cash flow in the fiscal year. And with significant improvements in working capital, we returned substantial cash to shareholders including a record $787 million in dividends."
Fourth quarter sales decreased 5.0 percent from the prior-year quarter to $17.1 billion. For fiscal year 2012, sales decreased 0.8 percent from the prior year to $71.6 billion. Brand-to-generic prescription drug conversions impacted sales by $664 million or 3.7 percentage points in the fourth quarter and by $1.4 billion or 1.9 percentage points in the fiscal year.
Front-end comparable store sales (those open at least a year) decreased 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter, customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 3.2 percent and basket size increased 1.9 percent, while total sales in comparable stores decreased 8.7 percent.
Prescription sales, which accounted for 63.3 percent of sales in the quarter, decreased 8.1 percent, while prescription sales in comparable stores decreased 12.8 percent. The company filled 188 million prescriptions, a decrease of 6.9 percent over last year's fourth quarter. Prescriptions filled in comparable stores decreased 8.0 percent in the quarter.
In fiscal 2012, Walgreens filled 784 million prescriptions, representing a retail prescription market share of 18.7 percent.
Gross Profit and SG&A
Total gross profit dollars in the fourth quarter decreased $234 million, or 4.6 percent, compared with the year-ago quarter, while LIFO gross profit margins increased to 28.3 as a percentage of sales versus the year-ago quarter of 28.2. An increase in pharmacy profit margins was driven by generic drug sales, partially offset by market reimbursements, specialty pharmacy mix and LIFO. Front-end margins increased, reflecting the shift in the company's promotional strategy. The LIFO provision was $132 million in this year's fourth quarter versus $60 million last year, primarily driven by unusually high brand drug inflation in the quarter.
Selling, general and administrative expense dollars increased $12 million, or 0.2 percent, compared with the year-ago quarter. That increase includes 1.2 percentage points of SG&A expenses associated with the investment in Alliance Boots.
In the fourth quarter, the company opened or acquired 54 new drugstores compared with 59 in the year-ago quarter. In fiscal 2012, Walgreens added a net gain of 169 new drugstores including 43 acquisitions.
Fiscal Year 2012 Milestones and Looking Ahead
Walgreens achieved several key milestones since the beginning of fiscal 2012 in executing its vision to be the first choice in health and daily living, including:
"The hard work, tough decisions and strategic investments we made in fiscal 2012 put Walgreens in a strong position to deliver both short-term and long-term growth for the company, a new experience for our customers and patients, and greater value for our shareholders. We have the strategy, structure and talent in place to drive strong operating performance," said Wasson.
As of Aug. 31, 2012, Walgreens operated 8,385 locations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, including 7,930 drugstores and hospital onsite pharmacies nationwide. Walgreens also operates worksite health and wellness centers, infusion and respiratory service facilities, specialty pharmacies and mail service facilities. Its Take Care Health Systems subsidiary manages more than 700 in-store convenient care clinics and worksite health and wellness centers.
Walgreens will hold a conference call to discuss the fourth quarter and fiscal year results beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time today, Sept. 28. The conference call will be simulcast through Walgreens investor relations website at: http://investor.walgreens.com. A replay of the conference call will be archived on the website for 12 months after the call. A podcast also will be available on the investor relations website.
The replay also will be available from 11:30 a.m. Eastern time, Sept. 28, through Oct. 5, by calling 855-859-2056 within the U.S. and Canada, or 404-537-3406 outside the U.S. and Canada, using replay code 82883651.
Statements in this release that are not historical are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expect," "likely," "outlook," "forecast, "would," "could," "should," "can," "will," "project," "intend," "plan," "goal," "continue," "sustain," "synergy," "on track," "believe," "seek," "estimate," "anticipate," "may," "possible," "assume," variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, assumptions and uncertainties, including, but not limited to, those relating to the transactions contemplated by the Purchase and Option Agreement and other agreements relating to our strategic partnership with Alliance Boots and their possible effects, the parties' ability to realize anticipated synergies and achieve anticipated financial results, the risks associated with international business operations, the risks associated with governance and control matters, whether the option to acquire the remainder of the Alliance Boots equity interest will be exercised and the financial ramifications thereof, changes in vendor, payer and customer relationships and terms, changes in network participation, levels of business with Express Scripts customers, the implementation, operation and growth of our customer loyalty program, changes in economic and market conditions, competition, risks associated with new business areas and activities, risks associated with acquisitions, the ability to realize anticipated results from capital expenditures and cost reduction initiatives, outcomes of legal and regulatory matters, and changes in legislation or regulations. These and other risks, assumptions and uncertainties are described in Item 1A (Risk Factors) of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, as amended, each of which is incorporated herein by reference and in other documents that we file or furnish with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those indicated or anticipated by such forward-looking statements. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Except to the extent required by law, Walgreens does not undertake, and expressly disclaims, any duty or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement after the initial distribution of this release, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise.
Please refer to the supplemental information presented below for reconciliations of the supplemental non-GAAP financial measures used in this release to the most comparable GAAP financial measure and related disclosures