Walgreen's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript - TheStreet

Walgreen (WAG)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

March 27, 2012 8:30 am ET


Rick J. Hans - Divisional Vice President of Investor Relations & Finance and Assistant Treasurer

Gregory D. Wasson - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Wade D. Miquelon - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Kermit R. Crawford - President of Pharmacy, Health, Wellness Services & Solutions


Andrew P. Wolf - BB&T Capital Markets, Research Division

Ann K. Hynes - Mizuho Securities USA Inc., Research Division

Mark R. Miller - William Blair & Company L.L.C., Research Division

Thomas Gallucci - Lazard Capital Markets LLC, Research Division

Matthew J. Fassler - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Scott Andrew Mushkin - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

John Heinbockel - Guggenheim Securities, LLC, Research Division

David G. Magee - SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division



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Good day, and welcome to the Walgreen Co. Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to your host, Divisional Vice President of Investor Relations, Rick Hans. You may begin.

Rick J. Hans

Thank you. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our second quarter conference call. Today, Greg Wasson, President and CEO; and Wade Miquelon, Executive Vice President and CFO, will update you on the quarter. Also joining us on the call and available for questions is Kermit Crawford, President of Pharmacy, and Mark Wagner, President of Community Management.

As a reminder, today's presentation includes certain non-GAAP financial measures, and I would direct you to our web website at investor.walgreens.com for reconciliation.

After the call, this presentation and a podcast will be archived on our website for 12 months.

Certain statements and projections of future results made in this presentation constitute forward-looking information that is based on current market, competitive and regulatory expectations that involve risk and uncertainty. Except to the extent required by law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statement after this presentation, whether as a result of new information, future events, changes in assumptions or otherwise. Please see our latest Form 10-K filing for a discussion of risk factors as they relate to forward-looking statements.

Now I'll turn the call over to Greg.

Gregory D. Wasson

Thank you, Rick. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our call.

Today, I'll begin with our quarterly results. Second, I'll discuss highlights for the quarter and update our progress on our Well at Walgreens strategy to become America's first choice for health and daily living. And then finally, I'll provide insight into the second half of the year, and I'll turn the call over to Wade for a more detailed analysis.

Beginning with our results today. As you saw in our release this morning, we posted record second quarter sales of $18.7 billion, up 0.8% from $18.5 billion a year ago. Second quarter earnings per diluted share were $0.78, down 2.5% compared to $0.80 in the year-ago quarter. Despite our lower earnings, cash generation continued to be strong as cash flow from operations for the quarter exceeded $1 billion and free cash flow was $703 million.

We returned $570 million to shareholders in the quarter, up 23% over the same quarter last year, including $374 million in stock repurchases.

Compared to the prior year, the effect of no longer being part of Express Scripts pharmacy network as of January 1, 2012 impacted our results by $0.07 in the quarter and the mild cough cold/flu season impacted net earnings per diluted share by $0.03. This year's results benefited from one extra day versus last year because of leap year.

As we look further into the results, even with the impact from Express Scripts, the strength in our business fundamentals comes through in our financial highlights. First, our front-end comp was up 1.2% this quarter compared to the same quarter last year and excludes the effect of the leap day. We continued to see momentum in our Daily Living business as a balance promotional approach during the holiday seasons led to profitable sales growth. And as we expected, our convenience and our products and services led to higher comp store front-end sales in the quarter despite our reduced pharmacy volume.

Secondly, we saw a 31% increase in our volume for our 90-day prescription program. This demonstrates that the true value of our 90-day retail offering is becoming clear: Customers are getting what they want, the convenience to pick up a 90-day supply of the chronic medications at their trusted community pharmacy. At the same time, we're reducing cost to payers and helping to improve medication adherence and compliance, which is good for both patients and payers.

And finally, as we discussed, cash flow and cash returned to shareholders continue to be strong.

As you can see on this slide, our gross profit dollar growth was up $65 million or 1.2%, driven by our strong front end and solid underlying pharmacy performance and despite the exit from Express Scripts pharmacy network and a weak flu season. Importantly, the pharmacy gross profit impact was as we anticipated.

As we detailed in last quarter's call, we expect more significant gross profit dollar growth from new generics, including generic Lipitor in the back half of the year.

Turning to costs, SG&A dollar growth was $167 million or a 4% increase for the quarter. We also discussed on our last call that we were holding off on our cost reductions in pharmacy in order to retain as many patients as possible and to help ensure a smooth transition for those patients on Express Scripts plans who were forced to transition to new pharmacies. Because of that, our planned SG&A savings from labor reductions will be back-end loaded. SG&A dollar growth also reflects new store growth, continued investment in our strategies and the integration of drugstore.com. Taken it all together, the spread between gross profit dollar growth and SG&A dollar growth for the quarter was a negative $102 million and recall we think about the spread over a longer period of time, not quarter-to-quarter.

To generate these solid results, we continued to focus on our 5 key strategies to become America's first choice for health and daily living. I'll begin today with an update on our first strategy, to transform today's traditional drugstore to a health and daily living destination. To date, we have transformed nearly 200 drugstores across the chain to our Well Experience format. These include stores in Chicago and Indianapolis and Duane Reade stores in New York. Add to that our new Well Experience flagships in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York City, and it's clear we're stepping out of the traditional drugstore format to create something completely new and unique. We're combining cutting-edge design with an improved product assortment and developing the right mix of health care, beauty, fresh food and private brand solutions to more closely meet the needs of our communities. Our goal is to create an experience unmatched in the industry and one that is flexible enough to accommodate every community. From a store in an urban food desert to suburban stores to a flagship location on Wall Street and all types in between.

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