Rite Aid Posts Solid Earnings But Cannot Escape Sell-Off

Michael Teague |

Rite AidIn what appears to be a testament to just how badly markets are reacting to Ben Bernanke’s guidance on Wednesday regarding the end of fiscal stimulus, Rite Aid Corp. (RAD), the third largest drug store chain the in U.S. posted its third straight profitable quarter only to be greeted by a 7 percent drop in share price heading into midday trading.

Fiscal 2013 was the company’s first profitable year since 2007, and Rite Aid expects to be profitable again in the current year. Profits for the most recently ended quarter were at $89.7 million, or $0.09 per share on revenue of $6.29 billion, compared to the prior year period during which the company lost $28 million, or $0.03 per share on revenue of $6.47 billion.

Revenue was down from the prior year due to the company’s increased sales of less expensive but more profitable generic drugs, but beat the average estimate of $6.27 billion, while the $0.09 EPS figure was in keeping with analyst forecasts.

Though the company said it should remain in the black for the current fiscal year, it also revised down its guidance from full-year earnings of between $0.04 and $0.19 per share to between $0.01 and $0.16 per share.

Same-store sales, otherwise known as sales for stores open for longer than one year, a key metric for the retail industry, were down 2.5 percent throughout the quarter, which could at least in part have something to do with the fact that Rite Aid closed some underperforming locations during the period.

The $2.64 billion market cap company competes with Walgreen Co. (WAG) and CVS Caremark Corporation (CVS) in the drugstore chain market, and has seen its stock perform incredibly well over 2013, advancing nearly 130 percent, and almost 200 percent over the past 6 months. Amid Thursday’s broad sell-off, however, shares dipped to as low as $2.87 apiece.

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