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Meijer offers toy discounts for holiday season

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Meijer is offering discounts on more than 400 toys at stores and online in anticipation of the holiday season as many customers are likely to want to keep prices down, the Midwestern mass-merchandise chain said Thursday.

The chain also plans to release a holiday gift guide that includes 18 pages of toys and an online release of its list of its top 25 toys. The toy discounts include toys in “virtually every” category, ranging from action figures to educational toys.

“Meijer understands that our customers are continuing to keep a close eye on price tags this holiday season, which is why we’re once again offering price drops on a variety of the hottest toys,” Meijer toy merchandising manager Adam Whitney said. 

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AmerisourceBergen reports $80 billion in fiscal 2012 revenue, looking to divest AndersonBrecon

BY Michael Johnsen

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — AmerisourceBergen on Thursday reported revenue dropped 0.6% to $79.5 billion for its fiscal 2012 ended Sept. 30. Diluted earnings per share were a record $2.76, up 10% over the prior fiscal year diluted earnings per share from continuing operations. Gross profit was up 6.7% to $2.7 billion.

“Solid results across all of our business units and contributions from our recent acquisitions drove strong performance in the September quarter and in our full fiscal year 2012,” stated Steven Collis, AmerisourceBergen president and CEO. “Outstanding performance in AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, particularly in generic pharmaceuticals, helped overcome a difficult comparison to the prior year and drove operating income growth and margin expansion. The strength of ABDC, as well as the opportunities we see ahead for specialty distribution and our manufacturer services businesses, gave us the confidence to increase our annual dividend by 62% and to complete an accelerated share repurchase of $650 million."

AmerisourceBergen also announced that it is pursuing the sale of AndersonBrecon, its contract pharmaceutical packaging business, so that it can focus on its distribution, specialty and manufacturer services businesses. The company has solicited buyers and is currently reviewing initial bids for the business. 

The AmerisourceBergen board increased the dividend paid on common stock by 62% and declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.21, payable on Dec. 3 to shareholders of record on Nov. 19. In addition, the board also approved a new $750 million share repurchase authorization. Following the completion of a $650 million accelerated share repurchase program during the September quarter, the Company still has $97 million remaining on its prior May 2012 authorization, bringing the total amount authorized for repurchases to $847 million.

“Looking ahead, the company expects diluted earnings per share from continuing operations in fiscal year 2013 to be in the range of $3.06 to $3.16, an 11% to 14% increase over fiscal 2012,” Collis said. “Key assumptions supporting that range are: revenue growth in the 6% to 9% range; operating income growth in the 3% to 5% range; an operating margin decline in the low double-digit basis points range; and free cash flow in the range of $750 million to $850 million, which includes capital expenditures in the $180 million range."

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Hurricane helps Rite Aid monthly sales

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. – Rite Aid got a boost in its monthly same-store sales from Hurricane Sandy, the company said Thursday.

Announcing its October sales results, the retail pharmacy chain said same-store sales decreased by 1.1%. Front-end comps increased by 1.5%, while pharmacy comps decreased by 2.3%, including a negative effect of 971 basis points from new generic introductions; same-store prescription count increased by 4.7%.

Of the increase in front-end comps 1.1% came from pre-store sales associated with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, but temporary store closures are expected to have a negative effect on November sales, the company said. Meanwhile, 0.2% of the increase in same-store script count was also from Hurricane Sandy. The company had 188 stores closed or operating with no power Wednesday night, compared with 790 during the height of the storm on Monday night.

The results are in line with predictions made by some analysts. Credit Suisse analyst Ed Kelly wrote in a note Wednesday that front-end sales for retail pharmacies would likely see an increase due to people stocking up on items ahead of the storm. “While drug stores’ front-end sales are likely to continue to be pressured by channel shifting to value-oriented players and aggressive growth of small-box formats like dollar stores, we believe October sales should be better than recent trends,” Kelly wrote. “Hurricane Sandy likely provided a boost to sales, as consumers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic stocked up for this catastrophic event.”

Total drugstore sales for the four-week period decreased by 1.8% to $1.918 billion, compared with $1.954 billion in October 2011.

For the year to date, comps increased by 0.7%, including a 2.1% increase in front-end comps and a 0.1% increase in pharmacy comps. Total sales for the 34-week period were flat over the year before, at $16.463, compared with $16.467 during the same period last year.

The Rite Aid Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross Wednesday to assist with storm relief efforts. 

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