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    Walgreen Co. Reports Record Earnings, Says Expansion Program is on Track

    DEERFIELD, Ill. - Walgreen Co. on Monday posted record earnings in the third quarter, reporting a 21 percent jump in profits and plans for more expansion.

    DEERFIELD, Ill. - Walgreen Co. on Monday posted record earnings in the third quarter, reporting a 21 percent jump in profits and plans for more expansion.

    The drug retailer said its third-quarter net earnings were up 21.4 percent to $259.0 million or 25 cents per share (diluted), versus $213.4 million or 21 cents per share (diluted) for the same quarter a year ago.

    Sales rose 17.5 percent to a record $7.4 billion for the third quarter, with total sales in comparable stores up 11.5 percent.

    Prescription sales, which accounted for 61 percent of sales in the quarter, climbed 21.9 percent. Prescription sales in comparable stores rose 16.7 percent in the quarter.

    Chairman Dan Jorndt noted that Walgreens' expansion program is ahead of its plan to operate 6,000 stores by 2010. "We're the only major drugstore chain expanding its store base," he said. "We've opened 319 new stores so far this fiscal year, and we're on track to open 475 stores for the full year."

    Jorndt also noted the company's excellent inventory control. "We ended the third quarter with one of the best inventory positions we've had in recent memory," he said. "Inventory levels at the end of May were almost flat compared to last year, despite operating 342 more stores and an additional major distribution center."

    Walgreens is now the No. 1 drugstore in 39 markets. The company said that in its top 60 product categories, Walgreens is growing faster than its drugstore, grocery and mass merchandiser competition.

    As of May 31, Walgreens operated 3,766 drugstores in 43 states and Puerto Rico, versus 3,424 a year ago, an increase of 342 stores.

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