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Walgreen sales edge up in February

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Chicago Walgreen Co. said February same-store sales rose just 0.4%, crimped by a lower incidence of the flu versus a year earlier.

The rise was nearly in line with the 0.5% increase analysts had anticipated.

It was the first monthly same-store sales rise at Walgreen since November.

Prescription and general merchandise sales were both pressured by the mild-winter flu season. Also, consumers continued to hold off buying discretionary items.

Same-store sales at Walgreens' pharmacy counters rose 0.9%, topping analysts' expectations for a 0.6% gain.

General merchandise same-store sales fell 0.6%, while analysts had expected a 0.9% decline.

Total sales climbed 3.2% to $5.31 billion.

Walgreen had 7,179 drug stores at the end of February, which is 501 more than a year earlier. That tally includes 59 stores acquired over the last year. It does not include the pending acquisition of New York's Duane Reade drug chain.

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