FINANCE

Report: Walgreens will emerge stronger from downturn

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Walgreens should emerge from the downturn in an even stronger position, the company told investors at its annual meeting on Wednesday.

The largest U.S. drugstore chain hopes that initiatives such as its remodeled stores and localized selection should push shoppers to buy more, according to a Reuters report.

The economy “has created a new consumer,” with changed spending habits that the company thinks will last, CEO Greg Wasson said at the annual meeting.

Walgreen has the opportunity to emerge from the economic downturn and the changes going on in the U.S. healthcare system as a stronger company, with greater market share and prospects for “strong, profitable and sustained growth,” chairman Alan McNally said.

Wasson suggested that international expansion, if it were to come, is at least a few years away.

Walgreen has scaled back its rapid store openings, but continues to open new stores and acquire others. On Wednesday, it announced plans to buy Minnesota’s Snyder’s Drug Stores chain. Walgreen is expanding into broader services, such as clinics and specialty pharmacy services.

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Big 5 posts Q4 sales gains, raises guidance

BY CSA STAFF

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Big 5 Sporting Goods reported that for the fiscal 2009 fourth quarter, net sales were $237.6 million, compared with net sales of $219.6 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008. Same-store sales increased 0.1% for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009.

For the fiscal 2009 full year, net sales increased $30.8 million, or 3.6%, to $895.5 million from $864.7 million for the fiscal 2008 full year. Same-store sales decreased 0.6% for the fiscal 2009 full year.

 

For the fiscal 2009 fourth quarter, the company expects to realize earnings per diluted share in the range of 28 cents to 30 cents, which is within the company’s previously issued guidance range and compares with earnings per diluted share in the prior-year period of 17 cents.  

 

For the fiscal 2009 full year, the company expects to realize earnings per diluted share in the range of $1.00 to $1.02, which is an increase of over 50% compared with earnings per diluted share of 64 cents in the prior year.  

“We are pleased to deliver our third consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth together with a substantial earnings increase over the prior year,” said Steven Miller, the company’s chairman, president and CEO.  “Although our fourth quarter sales were slightly softer than plan, our merchandise margins exceeded our expectations, increasing 88 basis points for the quarter.  We experienced strength in our hard goods and footwear categories, which comped positively in the low single-digit range for the quarter.  The primary factor in our softer than expected sales was the performance of our winter product categories, which comped negatively in the high single-digit range for the quarter as most of our markets experienced unfavorable winter weather comparisons to the prior year.  This led to our apparel category, which is heavily influenced by the sale of winter products, being down mid-single digits for the quarter.”

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Dollar General president to retire

BY CSA STAFF

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. Dollar General announced that David Bere, its president and chief strategy officer, has decided to retire at the end of the company’s current fiscal year, Jan. 29, 2010.

Bere’s retirement comes after eight years of service to the company. He took the helm of the company as president in the fall of 2006 and as interim CEO in July 2007. Before that, he served on the company’s board of directors, a position he held since early 2002.

 

“Dave helped lead the company through times of tremendous change and growth. He has been an invaluable friend and partner to me since I joined the company. We all wish Dave and his family the best in his retirement,” said Rick Dreiling, chairman and CEO.

The company does not intend to replace Bere at this time. Dreiling will assume the duties of president.

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