Longs Drug Stores
reported Friday that comparable-store sales rose 3.7% in November,
easily surpassing analysts' estimates and helped in part by the Southern California grocery workers union strike.
Pharmacy same-store sales increased 5.3% in the month, while front-end comps rose 2.5%, the company said.
Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Jack Murphy was expecting overall comps flat to -0.5%, with pharmacy and front-end comps both up 2%.
Citigroup Smith Barney analyst Lisa Cartwright had forecast flat-to-1% total comps, 1.5% to 2.5% pharmacy comp-store sales, and -1.5% to 0.5% front-end same-store sales.
Revenue for the month increased 6.6% to $353.8 million, with pharmacy sales up to 46.4% of the total, compared with 45.4% a year ago.
Longs estimates the strike added 2 to 2.5 percentage points to November same-store sales, which also benefited from an increase in the number of stores open on Thanksgiving and because Halloween happened to fall in that reporting period this year.
Total year-to-date sales hit $3.65 billion for the 43 weeks ended Nov. 27, up 1.8% from $3.59 billion last year.