Rite Aid's CEO Discusses Q4 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Rite Aid (RAD)

Q4 2012 Earnings Call

April 12, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Matt Schroeder - Group Vice President of Strategy & Investor Relations and Treasurer

John T. Standley - Chief Executive Officer, President, Director and Member of Executive Committee

Frank G. Vitrano - Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Executive Vice President

Analysts

Steven Forbes - Guggenheim Securities, LLC, Research Division

Carla Casella - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Karru Martinson - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Karen Eltrich - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Bryan C. Hunt - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

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

Lisa C. Gill - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Mary Ross Gilbert - Imperial Capital, LLC, Research Division

Edward J. Kelly - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Good morning. My name is Tabitha, and I'll be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like welcome everyone to the Rite Aid Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2012 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Mr. Schroeder, you may begin your conference.

Matt Schroeder

Thank you, Tabitha, and good morning, everyone. We welcome you to our Fourth Quarter Conference Call. On the call with me are John Standley, our President and Chief Executive Officer; and Frank Vitrano, our Chief Financial and Chief Administrative Officer. On today's call, John will give an overview of our fourth quarter results and discuss our business. Frank will discuss the key financial highlights and fiscal 2013 outlook. And then, we will take questions.

As we mentioned today in our release, we are providing slides related to the material we will be discussing today, including annual earnings and sales guidance on our website, www.riteaid.com, under the Investor Relations Information tab for conference calls. This guidance is a point-in-time estimate made early in the fiscal year. The company expressly disclaims any current intention to update it.

This conference call and the related slides will be available on the company's website until the next earnings call unless the company withdraws them earlier, and should not be relied upon thereafter. We will not be referring to the slides directly in our remarks but hope you will find them helpful as they summarize some of the key points made on the call.

Before we start, I'd like to remind you that today's conference call includes certain forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made in the context of certain risks and uncertainties that can or cause actual results to differ. These risks and uncertainties are described in our press release, in Item 1A of our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and other documents we file or furnish to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also, we will be using a non-GAAP financial measure. The definition of the non-GAAP financial measure, along with the reconciliations to the related GAAP measure, are described in our press release.

With these remarks, I'd now like to turn it over to John.

John T. Standley

Thank you, Matt, and thank you, everyone, for joining us this morning to review our fiscal 2012 fourth quarter and full-year results. As I commented in this morning's press release, we made strong progress in the fiscal year highlighted by same-store sales and adjusted EBITDA increases for the fifth consecutive quarter. During the fourth quarter, our same-store sales grew by 3% while script count increased by 2.4% over the prior year period. In addition, adjusted EBITDA increased by $58.9 million due to our same-store sales growth, improvements in FIFO gross margin and the extra week in fiscal 2012.

For the full year, same-store sales increased by 2% while the number of prescriptions filled in same stores increased by 0.9%. Adjusted EBITDA for the year grew to $942.9 million, an increase of $83.9 million over the prior year period. Net loss narrowed for both the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year.

Our top priority for fiscal 2012 was to grow the top line. And we achieved that, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the entire Rite Aid team. We successfully executed key initiatives like wellness+, our flu immunization program, wellness store remodels and our Rite Aid private brand program. We feel positive about these improved business results. And although there are still hard work ahead of us in our turnaround efforts, I'm pleased that we generated significant, positive momentum and that we're heading in the right direction as we begin our new fiscal year.

We are particularly pleased with our immunization efforts this year. Through the end of our fiscal year, our more than 11,000 certified immunizing pharmacists had administered nearly 1.5 million flu shots for fiscal year 2012, more than double our total for last year. In February, the American Pharmacists Association recognized our efforts by presenting Rite Aid with the prestigious Immunization Champion Award. Our store teams also did a great job in accommodating new customers who filled prescriptions with us due to the changes to the Express Scripts pharmacy benefit management network. Our chain-wide marketing campaign helped convince these customers to try our stores, and our store teams have responded by providing excellent service. We believe our customer loyalty program, wellness+, continues to be highly successful, thanks to the program's robust reward structure and the overall Rite Aid team's commitment to making sure our customers know what wellness+ has to offer. Total enrollment in the program has increased to 52 million members. With almost 2 years of member activity, we now have enough history and comparative data that going forward, we will measure active members as those who have used their cards at least twice during the last 26 weeks. Using this measurement, we had 25 million active members at the end of the fiscal year, which is a 16% increase in active members over the same period last year.

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