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Rite Aid Swings to Profit

The drugstore chain backs its full-year guidance.
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Rite Aid


shares climbed Thursday after the drugstore chain said it swung to a third-quarter profit, aided by strong pharmacy sales.

For the quarter ended Dec. 2, Rite Aid posted net income of $1.1 million, reversing a year-earlier loss of $5.2 million.

On a per-share basis, the company recorded a loss of 1 cent, narrowed from a per-share loss of 2 cents a year earlier. The per-share figures include the effect of preferred dividends.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 2 cents a share for the latest quarter.

Rite Aid's revenue rose 4.2% to $4.32 billion from $4.15 billion, topping Wall Street's forecast of $4.27 billion.

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Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, increased 3.4%. That gain consisted of a 4.3% jump in pharmacy sales and a 1.9% rise in front-end same-store sales.

The number of prescriptions filled in comparable drugstores increased 2.3%.

Rite Aid backed its full-year forecast for bottom-line results ranging from a loss of 7 cents a share to earnings of 2 cents a share. The company sees sales of $17.4 billion to $17.65 billion, with same-store sales growth of 2% to 4%.

The company also said Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission requested more information about its pending purchase of 1,850 Brooks and Eckerd chains from Canada's

Jean Coutu Group

. Rite Aid said it is in the process of responding to the request. The company expects the deal to close shortly after its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends March 3.

Shares of Rite Aid recently were up 11 cents, or 2%, to $5.48.