Walgreen Co.'s (WAG) April same-store sales fell a bigger-than-expected 6.4%--marking the fourth straight month of declines--as the drug-store chain's loss of Express Scripts Holding Co.'s (ESRX) members continued to hamper results.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected April same-store sales to fall 5.1%.
A conflict between Walgreen and Express Scripts over new contract terms erupted publicly last June, and Walgreen said it wouldn't be part of the pharmacy-benefits manager's network when their deal expired in 2011. The benefit manager's clients now have to go elsewhere to fill prescriptions.
Total sales fell 3.7% to $5.78 billion last month.
April same-pharmacy sales decreased 8.9% and missed the analysts' projected 8.6% decline.
Total pharmacy sales fell 6.3%. Prescriptions filled at same-stores declined 7.8% in April, reflecting the loss of Express Scripts members, a lower incidence of flu and more generic drug introductions. Prescriptions processed by Express Scripts comprised 12.6% of Walgreen's prescriptions a year earlier.
In the front of the store, same-store sales slipped fell 2.2% last month, compared with the analysts' flat front-end same-store sales forecast.
Total front-end sales slipped 0.5%. Customer traffic at same-stores fell 3% and average basket size increased 0.8%.
Walgreen reported in March its fiscal second-quarter earnings fell 7.7% as its exit from Express Scripts's network and a mild cold and flu season offset a 0.8% pop in total sales.
Shares closed Wednesday at $34.15 and were inactive premarket. The stock has gained 3.3% since the beginning of the year.
-By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; firstname.lastname@example.org