Walgreen Co. posted a 25% drop in its first quarter profit, while saying it was continuing to try to gain back its customers lost in 2011 during its disagreement with Express Script Holding over a contract.
The company, the biggest drugstore chain in the nation, reported $413 million in earnings or 43 cents per share for the three month period ending November 30. That was compared to last year’s profits for the same period of $554 million or about 63 cents per share.
The results, which were lower than anticipated, helped to push down the Walgreen stock price to $36.31 at close on Friday.
Sales during the first quarter dropped 4.6% to end at $17.3 billion. While sales in Walgreen stores open for a minimum of one year, an important measure, as it eliminates the effects of openings of new stores, dropped by 8%.
Prescriptions in those same stores dropped 4.8% from the same time last year, but that drop was not as much as during the second and third quarters.
The improvements were attributed to the company’s continued effort to win back its customers who took their prescriptions away from Walgreens to other locations early in the year after the disputed contract battle between Express Scripts and Walgreen led to them parting ways.
The dispute, analysts estimated, amounted to a loss in annual revenue of over $4.1 billion for the pharmacy chain. However, in midsummer, the two were able to resolve their issues and customers were allowed to return in September to Walgreen. However, while the dispute was taking place, CVS and Rite Aid were able to win over former Walgreen customers and that was evident in their reports of earnings for the quarter.