DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Walgreen Co. reported second-quarter earnings rose 16.8 percent, to $97.6 million, or 79 cents a share, from $83.6 million, or 67 cents, in the same quarter last year.

For the quarter ended Feb. 28, sales were up 10.7 percent, to $2.5 billion from $2.3 billion.

For the six months, profits increased 15.1 percent, to $141.8 million, or $1.15, from $123.2 million, or 99 cents, in the year-ago period before the effect of accounting changes. In the year-ago half, the $23.6 million accounting charge for post-retirement benefits and taxes reduced earnings to $99.6 million, or 80 cents. Also in the year-ago period, there was a special charge of 3 cents a share for the early retirement of $100 million in debt.

Sales climbed 10.6 percent, to $4.6 billion for the six months from $4.2 billion.

The company opened 97 stores during the first half of the year and hopes to open 175 more in the remainder of this year.

As of Feb. 28, Walgreen operated 1,901 drugstores in 30 states and Puerto Rico.

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