Walgreens says it saw sales surge, then drop off as coronavirus pandemic keeps customers indoors

A pedestrian passes in front of a Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. store in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Walgreens Boots Alliance beat Wall Street earnings expectations Thursday, sending shares up about 3% in early trading.

Here’s what Walgreens reported for its fiscal second quarter of 2020 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.52 adjusted, vs. $1.46 expected
  • Revenue: $35.82 billion, vs. $35.27 billion expected

Walgreens said it was on track with its 2020 forecast to have roughly flat growth before the coronavirus pandemic. It said the impact of the outbreak is unclear, and it will provide updates in its next earnings report.

In the second quarter ended Feb. 29, net income fell to $946 million, or $1.07 per share, from $1.16 billion, or $1.24 per share, a year earlier.

After adjustments, Walgreens earned $1.52 per share, which was more than the $1.46 per share analysts were expecting, according to Refinitiv. 

Walgreens said revenue grew to $35.82 billion, from $34.53 billion last year, and higher than the $35.27 billion analysts expected.

The global pharmacy chain has been one of the retailers that has seen greater demand as the coronavirus pandemic causes customers to stock up on over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and items, such as cleaning supplies and disposable gloves.

Walgreens has added new ways for customers to get popular items while socially distancing. Last week, it said customers could buy more than 60 popular items, such as cleaning supplies, cough and cold medications and formula, at its more than 7,300 pharmacy drive-thrus in the U.S. It also has a partnership with Postmates to do contactless delivery to homes. 

Its competitor, CVS Health, has also seen a surge of demand because of the pandemic and plans to fill 50,000 jobs for store associates, home delivery drivers, distribution center employees and customer service professionals.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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