UPDATE 2-Rite Aid posts wider-than-expected Q1 loss, shares sink

jueves 26 de junio de 2008 20:51 CEST

(Adds conference call details in paragraph 10, share movement)

June 26 (Reuters) - Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N: Cotización), the No. 3 U.S. drugstore chain, posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, hurt by higher operating costs and acquisition-related expenses, sending its shares to their lowest in at least two decades.

Separately, Rite Aid also said it was offering $425 million of senior secured notes due in 2016, which is part of a previously announced refinancing of about $700 million of debt.

Charges related to the refinancing could impact net loss and loss per share, the company added.

Rite Aid shares, which have lost more than three-quarters of their market value since hitting a 52-week high of $6.51 in June last year, plunged 15 percent to a low of $1.48 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the first quarter ended May 31, the company reported a net loss of $156.6 million, or 20 cents a share, compared with a profit of $27.6 million, or 4 cents a share, a year earlier.

However, revenue jumped 49 percent to $6.61 billion, boosted by sales at Brooks and Eckerd drugstores, which it acquired from Canada's Jean Coutu Group Inc (PJCa.TO: Cotización) in 2007 to compete better with larger rivals Walgreen Co WAG.N and CVS Caremark (CVS.N: Cotización).

Analysts on average expected a loss of 10 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $6.67 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said expenses related to the Brooks and Eckerd deal included an increase in depreciation and amortization expense of $77.1 million, additional interest expense of $49.5 million and a rise in integration expense of $33.3 million.   Continuación...