Walgreens healthcare division boosts retail giant’s second-quarter earnings

Dive Brief:

  • Walgreens’ growing U.S. healthcare segment is continuing to bolster the retail health chain’s financial performance. The business, which includes value-based provider VillageMD, recorded $1.6 billion in sales in the second quarter, an increase of $1.1 billion from last year.
  • VillageMD sales were up 30%, including a boost from its recent acquisition of medical group Summit Health. Specialty pharmacy Shields Health Solutions grew sales 41%, while at-home care provider CareCentrix’s sales were up 25%.
  • Thanks in part to a jump in revenue in its healthcare segment, Walgreens’ results beat Wall Street expectations even as profit declined more than 20% amid lower COVID-19 vaccine volumes and test sales, higher salary costs, opioid litigation charges and costs associated with its $3.5 billion investment in its Summit acquisition.

Dive Insight:

Walgreens has been working to expand its business scope beyond pharmacies to more consumer-centric healthcare, and has acquired a number of companies to build out its growing U.S. healthcare division.

In its earnings results for the second quarter ended Feb. 28, the business reported gross profit of $32 million, as income from Shields and CareCentrix was offset by VillageMD expansion costs. VillageMD added 133 clinics compared to the second quarter last year.

In November, Walgreens agreed to acquire healthcare provider Summit through VillageMD. The almost $9 billion deal closed in January and included investments from Cigna’s health services division Evernorth.

“With the closing of VillageMD’s acquisition of Summit Health, [Walgreens] is now one of the largest players in primary care,” CEO Roz Brewer said in the company’s earnings release on Tuesday.

VillageMD also acquired a Connecticut-based medical group in March for an undisclosed amount. That group, called Starling Physicians, operates more than 30 primary care and multi-specialty practices across the state.

Starling “will contribute heavily to revenue and EBITDA growth in the second half of 2023,” said Walgreens CFO James Kehoe on a Tuesday morning call with investors. “Overall, the primary care business and the specialty care business is doing really, really well.”

Despite the recent deals, Walgreens is moving beyond its peak investment period in healthcare, management said on the call. VillageMD, for example, plans to concentrate growth and investments in specific markets where it can be “hyper-relevant” moving forward, according to Walgreens President John Standley.

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