Rite Aid may be viable acquisition, analyst says
BASEL, Switzerland Walgreens’ acquisition of Duane Reade on Wednesday may make Rite Aid a more attractive acquisition target, speculated UBS analyst Neil Currie in a research note issued Thursday.
Currie has rated Rite Aid a “buy,” which is unchanged from before Walgreens’ announcement yesterday, and has a 12-month price target of $4 for Rite Aid’s stock. Rite Aid was trading at around $1.50 early Thursday morning after having closed at $1.39 at end-of-day Wednesday.
Walmart may be one of the more likely suitors, Currie suggested, especially given the mass merchant’s potential urban and pharmacy business aspirations.
Currie also identified both Walgreens and CVS as possible suitors despite the fact that either of these chains might have to make significant divestitures to satisfy the Federal Trade Commission.
“We believe potential suitors for stores within the Rite Aid portfolio could include CVS, especially in the Pacific Northwest and Mountain regions; Walgreens in certain urban markets; and Walmart, given our view that Walmart has significant potential to grow in urban markets, is looking more closely at the economics of a smaller food/drug footprint and appears to have wider healthcare ambitions,” Currie wrote.
Based on evaluations of Walgreens’ acquisition of Duane Reade and CVS’ acquisition of Long’s Drug in 2008, the possible price-tag for a Rite Aid acquisition could ring as high as $7.7 billion.
Currie calculated that Duane Reade is selling at an enterprise value/store of $4.2 million, which compares with the $5.6 million paid for Long’s Drug by CVS in 2008. EV/store is a measure of a company’s value, often is calculated as market capitalization plus debt, minority interest and preferred shares, minus total cash and cash equivalents and divided by the store base.
Meanwhile, Rite Aid’s EV/store is calculated at approximately $1.6 million, Currie noted, given that Rite Aid’s salers/store is lower by 22%, versus Duane Reade and half of Long’s (in 2008). Multiply that $1.6 million/store evaluation by the approximate 4,800-strong Rite Aid store base and the likely cost for Rite Aid will calculate to about $7.7 billion.
FDA gives orphan-drug designation to treatment for kidney transplant patients
FREMONT, Calif. The Food and Drug Administration has given orphan-drug designation to an investigational preventive treatment for delayed graft function in kidney transplant patients made by Quark Pharmaceuticals, Quark announced Tuesday.
The FDA gave the designation to QPI-1002. The company, which develops therapies that switch genes on and off through a process known as RNA interference, said it had completed enrollment and dosing in a phase 1/2 study of the drug.
Delayed graft function, also known as DGF, is a form of kidney failure that increases the risk of rejection of transplanted kidneys and considered an unmet medical need. The FDA grants orphan-drug designation to products for treating rare diseases and conditions affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. Companies that get orphan-drug designation qualify for tax credits and longer market exclusivity periods following approval of the drug.
“We are confident that obtaining orphan status will facilitate the rapid development of this innovative compound and hope that ultimately, we can reduce the wait time for kidney transplants with fewer failed grafts,” Quark Pharmaceuticals president and CEO Daniel Zurr said in a statement.
Walgreens to acquire Duane Reade
DEERFIELD, Ill. Speculation has been spreading throughout the industry for some time, and now it’s official: Walgreens has reached an agreement to acquire Manhattan-based retailer Duane Reade in a cash deal valued at nearly $1.1 billion.
The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, will include all 257 Duane Reade stores located in the New York City metro area, as well as the corporate office and two distribution centers. Walgreens expects the deal to close in its current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31.
For the latest 12-month period ended Dec. 26, 2009, Duane Reade generated unaudited net sales of $1.8 billion.
“Duane Reade is a compelling strategic acquisition that will immediately provide Walgreens with a leading position in the largest drug store market in the United States,” stated Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson. “In addition, Duane Reade’s recent initiatives in urban retailing, customer loyalty and private brand products support and accelerate Walgreens strategy to enhance the customer experience in our network of more than 7,100 stores across the country.”
Walgreens currently operates 70 stores in the New York City metro area.
Walgreens expects to retain Duane Reade’s stores, pharmacy and distribution center employees and many members of Duane Reade’s senor management team. Over time, consolidation of core functions at the corporate offices will occur.
According to Walgreens executives, Duane Reade, which was founded in 1960 and is part of New York City’s fabric with its convenient locations and convenience items, will continue to operate its under its brand name after the deal closes. While New Yorkers may not see much change initially, Walgreens said that decisions would be made over time as to how best harmonize the Walgreens and Duane Reade brands.
“We are pleased that Walgreens shares our commitment to finding new and innovative ways to serve local communities, and we look forward to seeing our customers benefit from Walgreens’ unparalleled pharmacy and operational expertise as we continue with our ongoing transformation,” stated John Lederer, a former Loblaw executive who joined Duane Reade as chairman and CEO in April 2008.
Since taking the helm at Duane Reade, Lederer, and his new management team, has set in motion a significant brand transformation strategy aimed at improving pharmacy, fixing the customer experience and developing a relative, urban drug store box.
The transformation, based upon extensive market research, involves rebranding its stores with new signage, a new logo and a new brand mantra: “Duane Reade equals New York living made easy.” The mantra’s goal: to articulate its desire to become the destination of choice for beauty, wellness and convenience needs. These core offerings are being supported by a new concept segmentation that is sub-branded: “How I look, how I feel and what I need now.”
Improvements include new store designs with wide aisles and contemporary decor; a pharmacy featuring lower service counters; in-store health care clinics; and a store-within-a-store prestige beauty concept called “Look Boutique,” which elevates the merchandising of cosmetics and skin care products and features many prestige brands.
To date, Duane Reade has opened or converted 30 stores to the new format and has plans for up to 30 more new or remodeled stores in 2010. The continued roll out of “Look Boutique” is also planned for a growing number of stores across the network.
In addition, Duane Reade recently launched a new expanded customer loyalty program, dubbed FlexRewards, and a new private label offering under the DR Delish name.