Early Thursday, the company reported fiscal third-quarter earnings per share of $1.02, up 23% from a year earlier and above analysts' estimates of 87 cents. Revenue rose 48% to $28.8 billion, which was short of the $29.6 billion analysts were looking for.
Now as part of Walgreens' merger with European drugstore company Alliance Boots late last year, the company has been cutting costs to the tune of $1.5 billion over the next few years. During the quarter, nine stores closed, and about 80 are expected to shut down by the end of the company's fiscal year in August.
Comparable-store sales, an important industry metric that tracks sales in stores open for more than a year, rose 6.3%, while comparable-pharmacy sales, which represents two-thirds of the drugstore's overall sales, rose 9.3%.
Meanwhile, the company said acting CEO Stefano Pessina will officially take the top job. Pessina was previously executive chairman of Alliance Boots.
In a statement, Pessina said, "In just six months since the strategic combination that formed Walgreens Boots Alliance, we are beginning to make progress in our operations, as we were able to deliver another strong quarter. Our Retail Pharmacy USA division produced a solid increase in comparable prescriptions filled in the quarter, along with improved retail front-end margins and very good cost control."
The drugstore chain lifted its fiscal 2015 earnings estimate to $3.70 to $3.80 a share, compared with a previously reported $3.45 to $3.65. Its quarterly dividend was bumped by 6.7% to 36 cents a share.