UPDATE 3-Rite Aid Q2 loss widens; sees bigger FY09 loss

jueves 25 de septiembre de 2008 19:44 CEST

(Adds analysts' comments in paragraph 8-9, 22-23)

BANGALORE, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N: Cotización), the No. 3 U.S. drugstore chain, posted a wider quarterly loss, hurt by certain charges and lower sales at its acquired stores, widened its fiscal 2009 loss estimate, and announced key executive departures.

The company, which posted its fifth straight quarterly loss on Thursday, said the new outlook reflects a longer-than-expected turnaround of Brooks Eckerd pharmacy sales and the closing of underperforming stores.

"The growing uncertainty in this economy and the growing reluctance of customers to spend their dollars did taint that we tighten our belts further," a company executive said in a conference call with analysts.

The company, which bought Brooks and Eckerd drugstores in June last year, cut its capital expenditures by about 8 percent for the fiscal year.

Rite Aid said Chief Financial Officer Kevin Twomey, Chief Operating Officer Robert Easley and Chief Administrative Officer Pierre Legault resigned to pursue other opportunities.

The company named John Standley COO and president, and appointed Frank Vitrano to the combined role of CFO and chief administrative officer, effective immediately.

Both Standley and Vitrano were previously with Pathmark Stores Inc, Rite Aid, whose stores fill prescriptions and sell health and beauty aids, convenience foods and greeting cards, said in a statement.

The management changes seem to address the difficulties and offer a glimmer of hope, but "hope is not an investment strategy, and it will be difficult for them (new COO and CFO) to orchestrate a turnaround more rapidly than their predecessors," Banc of America Securities analyst Bob Willoughby said.   Continuación...