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Why Is Walgreens Boots (WBA) Down 4.4% Since the Last Earnings Report?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 4.4% in that time frame, underperforming the market.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to the stock's next earnings release, or is it due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Walgreens Boots Tops Q3 Earnings, Revenue Estimates

Walgreens Boots Alliance reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.33 in third-quarter fiscal 2017, up 12.7% year over year. Adjusted EPS surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $ 1.31.

On a reported basis, net earnings came in at $1.2 billion, reflecting an increase of 5.3% from the prior-year quarter. Reported earnings came in at $1.07 per share, reflecting an improvement of 5.9% on a year-over-year basis.

Total Sales

Walgreens Boots recorded total sales of $30.11 billion in the fiscal third quarter, down 2.1% year over year and up 5% at constant exchange rate (CER). The top line outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $29.68 billion.

Following the earnings release, the company’s share price rose 4.03% during pre-market trading session.

Segments in Detail

The Retail Pharmacy USA division delivered sales of $22.5 billion in the reported quarter, reflecting an increase of 6.3% on a year-over-year basis. Within this segment, total sales at comparable drugstores rose 3.7%, while prescriptions filled in comparable stores grew 8.3% on account of Medicare Part D growth and volume growth from previously announced strategic pharmacy collaborations. On the other hand, comparable retail stores edged down 0.4% due to lower sales of consumables and general merchandise category and at the personal care category, partially offset by higher sales in the health and wellness and beauty categories.

Pharmacy sales, which accounted for 69.9% of the division’s sales in the quarter, increased 10.3% from the year-ago quarter, while pharmacy sales at comparable stores increased 5.8% on higher volumes.

Revenues at the Retail Pharmacy International division declined 10.3% on a year-over-year basis (down 0.2% at CER) to $2.8 billion, on account of currency fluctuations. At CER, comparable store sales in the third quarter increased 0.2% year over year, while comparable pharmacy sales fell 0.1% due to a reduction in government pharmacy funding in the U.K.

The Pharmaceutical Wholesale division recorded quarterly sales of $5.3 billion, down 7.9% year over year (up 3.7% at CER).

Margins

Gross profit in the reported quarter decreased 3.9% year over year to $7.14 billion. Accordingly, reported gross margin contracted a massive 147 basis points (bps) to 23.7%.

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses were down 3.2% year over year to $5.71 billion. Despite that, adjusted operating income decreased 6.3% to $1.43 billion owing to significantly lower gross profits. Accordingly, adjusted operating margin contracted 43 bps to 4.8%.

Financial Condition

Walgreens Boots ended the third quarter of 2017 with cash and cash equivalents of $12.25 billion, compared with $11.82 billion at the end of second-quarter fiscal 2017. Long-term debt was $14.37 billion at the end of the reported quarter, compared with $17.75 billion at the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2017.

Moreover, the company generated operating cash flow of $5.23 billion in the third quarter, up from $5.18 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. The resultant free cash flow was $1.58 billion in the reported quarter, as compared with $1.85 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Guidance

Walgreens Boots raised the lower end of its guidance for fiscal 2017 by $0.08 and currently expects full-year adjusted earnings per share in the range of $4.98 to $5.08. The Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4.99 is within the guided range.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

Following the release, investors have witnessed an upward trend in fresh estimates. There have been four revisions higher for the current quarter compared to three lower.

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. Price and Consensus

VGM Scores

At this time, Walgreens Boots Alliance's stock has a nice Growth Score of 'B', though it lags a bit on the momentum front with a 'C'. The stock was allocated a grade of 'B' on the value side, putting it in the second quintile for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of 'A'. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Based on our scores, the stock is primarily suitable for those looking for growth and value and to a lesser degree momentum.

Outlook

While estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, the magnitude of these revisions has been net zero. Notably, the stock has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect in-line returns from the stock in the next few months.




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