Monday, October 5, 2009

Walgreen recovering from the flu

From the moment that I saw Dr.Oz receiving a flu shot from a Walgreens representative on his new daytime show, I knew that only good could come of it.

A combination of cost cutting, the H1N1 flu, and the recession coming to an end in the US seems to have Walgreen (WAG) up and at 'em again. The US drugstore chain beat expectations handily in their fiscal fourth quarter thanks in part to $0.07/share in savings from their Rewiring For Growth initiative.

Their September sales report also looked very strong as sales came in over 10% higher and sames store sales clocked in at an increase of 5.3%. Those are very strong numbers and probably reflect the extra emphasis on flu season this year in addition to the cost initiatives.

2009 turned out to be an extremely rare year for Walgreen, as they failed to grow their earnings per share. Walgreen has grown their EPS each year smartly from $0.76/share in 2000 to $2.17 in 2008 and it fell to $2.02 in 2009. Analysts are expecting great things from this stock in 2010 as the average estimate is for $2.32, which is a 15% rise. Applying a P/E of 16x, which is more than warranted due to Walgreen's stellar history and current market presence, you get a share price of around $37, which is about one dollar below where the shares trade today.

The street has made an about face on Walgreen stock as the shares change hands for almost twice what they went for back March. Ah.....opportunity missed.....

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