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Rite Aid Up on Comps Growth in March

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Drugstore chain retailer, Rite Aid Corporation’s (RAD - Free Report) comparable store sales (comps) for the four weeks ended Mar 29, 2014, increased 0.7%. The growth was attributable to a rise in pharmacy comps and improved prescription count at comparable stores, partly offset by decline in front-end comps.

Buoyed by the rise in comps, the shares of Rite Aid moved 2.04% up the index during yesterday’s trade.

Pharmacy comps for March were up 3.5%, which included a negative impact of nearly 133 basis points from generic drug introduction. The company witnessed a 1.1% increase in prescription count at comparable stores. However, front-end comps declined 5.0%, of which 4.1% was due to the shift of Easter timing from March 31 last year to April 20 this year.

Rite Aid’s total drugstore sales for the month stood at $1.947 billion, up 0.4% from the year-ago figure of $1.939 billion. Prescription sales constituted 69.4% of the total drugstore sales while third-party prescription sales accounted for 97.4% of pharmacy sales.

One of Rite Aid’s main competitors, Walgreen Co. , which is also the largest drugstore retailer in terms of store count, came up with positive comps results for March, yesterday. The company recorded a 3.5% rise in total comps mainly attributable to an 8.0% increase in pharmacy comps and a 5.1% rise in prescriptions filled at comparable stores, offset by a 3.4% decline in front-end comps mainly due to the shift in Easter timing.

Rite Aid is the third largest drugstore retailer in terms of number of stores after Walgreen and CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS - Free Report) . The company also competes with Herbalife Ltd. (HLF - Free Report) .

Rite Aid breathed a sigh of relief after reporting the third consecutive month of comps and sales growth following its disappointing third-quarter fiscal 2014 results and the unfavorable outlook projected in Dec 2013.

Looking ahead, the company’s sustained focus on expanding pharmacy and clinical services through its Wellness+ customer loyalty program and remodeling of wellness stores raise our hopes. We believe that such measures will enable the company to broaden its customer base and boost top- and bottom-line performance.

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