Deerfield, Ill. Walgreen Co. said Monday its fiscal first-quarter profit jumped 20%, mainly on higher prescription drug sales and from flu shots, topping Wall Street forecasts.
The company earned $489 million, up from $408 million a year prior. Revenue rose 9.5% to $16.36 billion from $14.95 billion.
Flu shots helped boost front-end sales, the company said, though demand tapered off in November. The company administered more than 5 million flu shots between September and November, compared with 1.2 million the previous flu season.
Walgreen also said the recession had a negative impact on holiday sales.
"Consumer concerns over high unemployment and the challenging economy were a drag on holiday sales at the end of November, and we've seen a similar pattern through mid-December," president and CEO Greg Wasson said in a statement.
He said the company's holiday performance is driven by the final shopping days.