Facing Future 2: Walgreens writes down $5.8B for VillageMD in Q2, lowers 2024 earnings on ‘challenging’ retail outlook

Walgreens unsparing in FY 2024 Q2 results, affected by VillageMD closures, weak retail, and inflation. In a financial report released Thursday, remarkably devoid of happy talk, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) presented a ‘picture adjustment’ that wrote down VillageMD’s losses even while locations are being closed. WBA also factored in for full year 2024 the ‘challenging retail environment in the US’ as well as the blurry picture of the US Healthcare division that includes VillageMD, Summit Health/CityMD, Shields Health Solutions (pharmacy), and CareCentrix (home care). 

For WBA in total, the first six months of their fiscal year, through 29 February 2024, reflected a tidy increase in sales: 8.1% from the year-ago period (7.2% in constant currency) to $73.8 billion. Operating loss was $13.2 billion, versus prior year/same period loss of $6 billion.

  • Most of the operating loss was attributable to VillageMD’s exits from Florida, Indiana, Chicago, Boston, Rhode Island, and Las Vegas. The total number of locations will be 140, not the earlier reports of 50 that grew to 85. Both were confirmed by a company spokesperson to Forbes.
  • Financially, the impact is a $12.4 billion non-cash impairment charge related to VillageMD goodwill, resulting in a $5.8 billion charge attributable to WBA, net of tax and non-controlling interest.
  • The six-month net loss: $6.0 billion versus $3.0 billion in prior year/same period, again taking into account non-cash impairment charges.
  • This totals to a loss per share of $6.93 compared to loss per share of $3.50 in prior year/same period.

As noted earlier, this Editor’s math is that Walgreens in the US sank close to $10 billion in VillageMD including their minority then majority interest, plus subsidizing their purchase of Summit Health. This write-off is well over half. The fact that the write-off of closing markets, locations, and goodwill is not being delayed past the fiscal mid-year is aggressive. Contrast this to Teladoc, which waited a full year to write down Livongo.

US Healthcare as a whole for Q2 rose 33.2% in sales, narrowed operating loss to $34 million versus last year’s $159 million, and came up positive in EBITDA with $17 million, a $127 million increase versus the same quarter prior year. For the full year, WBA is projecting a breakeven of plus/minus $50 million.

Retail sales continued to weaken, with a 4.5% decrease for the quarter ending 29 February. Comparable retail sales decreased 4.3% versus same quarter in prior year. Pharmacy sales were higher, driven partially by higher drug costs, with a 8.7% rise.

Rounding out the picture, for the full year, WBA’s earnings per share guidance lowered to $3.20 to $3.35.  WBA earnings release, FierceHealthcare,CNBC    CEO Tim Wentworth will have an interesting next six months to turn this ship around.

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