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Walgreens beats Q4 earnings estimates, but forecasts slower FY'19 EPS growth

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.'s fiscal fourth-quarter results surpassed analyst expectations Oct. 11, but shares of the company fell as it predicted a slowdown in adjusted EPS growth for its 2019 fiscal year.

The Deerfield, Ill. retail pharmacy chain's adjusted diluted EPS of $1.48 in the fiscal fourth quarter beat analysts expectations for the three months to Aug. 31. The mean consensus of analysts' estimates for normalized EPS is $1.45, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Adjusted net earnings attributable to Walgreens Boots Alliance also topped Street estimates at $1.45 billion. The S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate for net income excluding exceptional items is $1.42 billion.

The company said it expects adjusted EPS to grow between 7% and 12% for its 2019 fiscal year, or between $6.40 and $6.70. That would amount to a smaller increase than the 18% growth that the retailer posted for its 2018 fiscal year adjusted EPS.

Shares of the company fell 4.5% to $69.06 in premarket trading. The company reported results before U.S. markets opened Oct. 11.

The full-year EPS growth range excludes the effects of foreign exchange but includes Walgreen's $10 billion share repurchase program, which the company announced in results for its fiscal third quarter. The drug store chain will buy back approximately $3 billion worth of its shares in fiscal 2019.

Sales for the quarter increased 11% from the year-ago period to $33.44 billion. Comparable store sales rose 0.3% within Walgreens's Retail Pharmacy USA segment.

Walgreens also reported results for its 2018 fiscal year. Adjusted diluted EPS of $6.02 beat the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus estimate for normalized EPS of $5.98.

Adjusted net earnings for the year also came in higher than estimates at $5.99 billion. The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus estimate is $5.93 billion. Sales for the year rose 11% to $131.54 billion.