Rite Aid's stock no longer in compliance with NYSE

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Tuesday announced that the New York Stock Exchange has notified the company that it is no longer in compliance with NYSE listing standards because the price of its common stock has fallen below the NYSE's share price rule.

This marks the second time in three years that the price of Rite Aid’s common stock has fallen below the $1 mark over a consecutive 30 trading-day period. Rite Aid’s stock closed at 98 cents on June 30; 99 cents on July 30 and $1 on Monday, the day before the announcement was made.

Commenting on Rite Aid July sales, Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly on Friday issued a note suggesting that while Rite Aid has again reported weak monthly sales (comparable sales down 1.1%), those declines appear to be stabilizing. On the front end, Rite Aid beat analyst expectations of a 1% decline, posting only a 0.5% decline.

Similarly, prescription counts also moderated, Kelly noted, falling 1.5% as compared to a 3.7% decline in the month prior.

According to Kelly’s scorecard, even that decline in prescription counts would be filed in the negative-for-Rite-Aid column, along with the fact that comparable sales have been on the decline for 14 consecutive months. In the plus column, Kelly pointed to strong front-end sales of consumables, HBA and vitamins without any greater commitment to promotional pricing over the last few months. Kelly also identified continued improvements in private-label penetration to more than 16%. Rite Aid earlier this year revamped its store brand offerings in an attempt to increase that penetration.

Kelly maintained a neutral rating on Rite Aid stock.

Rite Aid said it was notified of non-compliance on Friday. Subject to NYSE rules, Rite Aid has six months from the receipt of the notice to regain compliance with the minimum share price rule or until the company's next annual stockholders meeting in June 2011 if stockholders approval is required to cure the price deficiency through such a measure as a reverse stock split, for example.

Under NYSE rules, Rite Aid can regain compliance during the six-month cure period by having an average closing share price of at least $1 for a 30-day trading period. On July 27, Rite Aid's board approved a reverse split of the company's common stock, subject to stockholders approval, if such a split is necessary to cure the price deficiency.

Stockholders had approved a reverse-stock split the last time the company’s stock dropped below the $1 threshold. Though before having to initiate that split, Rite Aid’s stock climbed above $1 organically. That reverse-stock split called for either a 1-for-10, 1-for-15 or 1-for-20 split.

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