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Ralphs announces charitable campaign to benefit children’s hospitals

BY CSA STAFF

LOS ANGELES — A Kroger banner based in Los Angeles has kicked off a charitable campaign to benefit children’s hospitals based in Southern California.

Ralphs on Monday said it is raising funds through its nonprofit, The Ralphs Fund, by asking customers and associates to donate their spare change in collection canisters located at Ralphs checkout stands.

Southern California children’s hospitals that will benefit from the charitable fundraising drive include:

Children’s Hospital of Orange County;

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles;

Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital;

Mattel Children’s Hospital (UCLA);

Miller Children’s Hospital (Long Beach); and

Rady Children’s Hospital (San Diego).

Since 2005, Ralphs, its associates and customers have given more than $1 million to children’s hospitals in Southern California. This year, Ralphs has set a goal of raising $170,000 for children’s hospitals.

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Merlo officially takes helm at CVS

BY CSA STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — As previously announced and widely reported, March 1 marks the day that Larry Merlo officially assumes the role of CEO of CVS Caremark. Merlo, who now serves as president and CEO, succeeds Tom Ryan, who remains nonexecutive chairman until his retirement at the company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders in May.

Upon Ryan’s retirement as chairman in May, the company intends to elect CVS Caremark board member David Dorman as the next nonexecutive chairman of the board of CVS Caremark at the 2011 Annual Meeting. Dorman has been on the CVS Caremark board of directors since 2006.

"After more than 20 years, I know this organization, its values and our people’s passion for serving our customers," Merlo stated. "We are building on a strong foundation. CVS Caremark is the leader in providing integrated pharmacy health care. No one else has our combination of the largest chain of retail stores, a leading [pharmacy benefit manager], the fastest-growing retail health clinics and a strong track record of healthcare innovation."

"We are now focused on delivering the promise of our integrated pharmacy healthcare model. We will more fully leverage our unique combination of assets by maximizing the potential of our pharmacy benefit management business, sustaining our retail leadership, continuing innovation to create new healthcare solutions and more consistently delivering financial and operational excellence," Merlo added. "The entire CVS Caremark team is committed to delivering these results."

Merlo, a pharmacist by training with more than 30 years in pharmacy health, joined CVS/pharmacy in 1990 through the company’s acquisition of Peoples Drug. He has played a key role in the evolution of the company and has an impressive track record of integrating major acquisitions. Under Merlo’s leadership, CVS completed some of the most successful acquisitions in the history of retail pharmacy, including Longs Drug stores, Osco/Sav-on, Eckerd and Revco, and delivered significant organic growth in major markets across the country.

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Pet chain fetches solid sales

BY CSA STAFF

Profits at the nation’s largest pet specialty chain surged 26% during the fourth quarter as same-store sales advanced 6.3% and total sales grew 8.1% to $1.5 billion.

“Our third consecutive quarter of accelerating comparable transactions growth as well as a strong holiday performance led to better-than-expected results for the quarter,” said PetSmart president and CEO Bob Moran.

Earnings per share of 77 cents were 26% higher than the same period the prior year and full year and three cents better than analysts expected. Full-year earnings of $2.01 were 26% higher than the prior year. Full-year same-store sales increased 4.8%, which gave the company full year revenue of $5.7 billion with roughly $619 million of that amount coming from the sales of services such as grooming and boarding. PetSmart ended the year with 1,187 stores in the U.S. and Canada and 180 in-store PetsHotel cat and dog boarding facilities.

Going forward, the company is forecasting first quarter same-store sales in the low-to-mid single-digit range and earnings per share of 52 cents to 56 cents, according to CFO Chip Molloy. Full-year same-store sales are forecast at 3% to 4% with earnings per share between $2.23 and $2.35.

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