Drugstore Chain Walgreens Shares Soar Over 8% After Q1 Earnings Top Estimates

The largest U.S. drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance reported better-than-expected earnings in the fiscal first quarter and remained broadly consistent in its full-year forecast for earnings growth, sending its shares up over 8% on Thursday.

Walgreens Boots Alliance said its sales increased 5.7% to $36.3 billion in fiscal first quarter ended November 2020, up 5.2% on a constant currency basis. Loss per share was $0.36, compared to EPS of $0.95 in the year-ago quarter, including a $1.73 per share charge from the company’s equity earnings in AmerisourceBergen.

Adjusted EPS decreased by 11.2% to $1.22, down 11.6% on a constant currency basis, reflecting an estimated adverse COVID-19 impact of $0.26 to $0.30 per share. But it beat analysts’ expectations of $1.03 per share.

“Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) reported adj. EPS of $1.22, vs. consensus of $1.03. We look for details around the better than expected results in Retail Pharmacy USA and Retail Pharmacy Int’l. FY21guidance was maintained but now skewed positively. Mgmt now expects to see a greater impact from COVID-19 in F2Q, and we look for an update to mgmt’s COVID-19 recovery assumptions,” said Charles Rhyee, equity analyst at Cowen and company.

Drugstore chain maintained its fiscal year 2021 guidance, but with the profile skewed positively. The company continues to forecast expects adj. EPS of low single-digit growth, roughly in-line with consensus of $4.81, which implies growth of +1.5% y/y.

Walgreens forecasts to see a higher adverse impact from COVID-19 in the fiscal second quarter but continues to expect F1H21 adj. EPS to decline 17%-23%, broadly consistent with prior expectations. On a full-year basis, the impact of COVID-19 vaccines is likely offset by COVID-19 related lockdowns and increased growth investments.

Walgreens Boots Alliance shares soared over 8% to $46.48 on Thursday. However, the stock fell over 30% in 2020.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Stock Price Forecast

Seven analysts who offered stock ratings for Tiffany & Co in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months at $41.20 with a high forecast of $44.00 and a low forecast of $40.00. The average price target represents a -10.47% decrease from the last price of $46.02. All those seven equity analysts, none rated “Buy, six rated “Hold” and one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave a base target price of $40 with a high of $46 under a bull scenario and $27 under the worst-case scenario. The firm currently has an “Equal-weight” rating on the pharmacy provider’s stock.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Truist Securities raised the price target to $44 from $40. Citigroup upped their price objective to $45 from $40. Cowen and company lowered the stock price forecast to $41 from $46. Deutsche Bank raised the price target to $41 from $40. UBS lowered the target price to $41 from $42.

Analyst Comments

“Walgreens Boots Alliance operates a top 2 retail pharmacy chain in the US as well as Boots Pharmacy and Alliance drug distribution in Europe. With COVID-19 disruption likely to weigh on results for the first part of FY21, at the least, along with ongoing structural reimbursement pressure, EBIT and EPS growth will likely be constrained for the foreseeable future, said Ricky Goldwasser, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“Walgreens has the balance sheet to deploy capital into M&A, as well as the strategic optionality to potentially reposition its portfolio of assets in a changing healthcare marketplace. Unveiling a new strategy under a new CEO that provides a roadmap to future growth is a potential catalyst for shares.”

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