NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Walgreen ( WAG) barely missed second-quarter profit expectations as same-store sales turned negative. During the quarter the drugstore earned $669 million, or 68 cents a share, compared with $640 million, or 65 cents a share, in the year prior.
Excluding 2 cents in restructuring charges, Walgreen earned 70 cents a share, missing Wall Street's expectations by a penny. Overall sales rose 3% to $16.99 billion, but same-store sales slipped 0.2%. Comparable sales were hurt by a milder winter flu season and a consumer cut back in discretionary purchases. Front-end sales, which include items such as haircare products and magazines, dropped 1.6%. "As much as the early flu season helped our first-quarter results, it hurt our second-quarter results," President and CEO Greg Wasson said in a statement. "However, the company's decision to buy less seasonal inventory helped strengthen margins."
Walgreen cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed that the percentage of physician visits by patients with flu symptoms fell to 1.8% in late February from 7.7% in late October. Walgreen shares are rising 0.9% to $35.65 in morning trading. The company is currently in the process of purchasing New York City drug-store chain Duane Reade. Once complete, the deal will make Walgreen the biggest drug-store operator in the city. --Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York. Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
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