NEW YORK – No. 1 U.S. drugstore chain Walgreen Co. (WAG) on Monday said fourth-quarter profit rose slightly as it took a $54.7 million charge for expenses tied to Hurricane Katrina (search) damage.
Walgreen earned $329 million, or 32 cents a share, for the quarter ended August 31, up from $324.4 million, or 32 cents a share, a year earlier.
Before charges and gains from litigation settlements, profit rose 12.1 percent to $363.3 million, or 35 cents a share. On that basis, analysts expected a profit of 37 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.
When Katrina hit the Gulf Coast (search), Walgreen was forced to close as many as 74 stores. It operates nearly 5,000 drugstores in all.
On September 2, Walgreen, which typically doesn't give earnings projections, had warned it would incur expenses in the latest quarter, citing losses in inventory, property and equipment stemming from Katrina.
Currently, 32 stores remained closed in New Orleans and the surrounding area, Walgreen said in a statement.
Even with the hurricane damage, quarterly sales jumped 11.3 percent to $10.5 billion, and sales from stores open at least a year, a key measure of retail performance, increased 7 percent.
Prescription same-store sales rose 7.7 percent, Walgreen said.