A Boots store

Walgreens Boots Alliance is raising fiscal 2018 guidance after sales and earnings gains in the second quarter.

For the three months, Walgreens’ net earnings were up 27.3 percent to $1.3 billion. Net sales were up 12.1 percent, to $33 billion. Diluted net earnings per share increased 38.8 percent to $1.36.

For the first six months, Walgreens’ net earnings increased 2.6 percent to $2.2 billion. Net sales jumped 10 percent to $63.8 billion, and diluted net earnings per share were up 11.3 percent to $2.16.

Walgreens raised 2018 guidance, and now expects adjusted diluted net earnings per share of between $5.85 and $6.05. The business also said it is expecting a $350 million cash tax benefit from changes in U.S. tax law.

Walgreens recently acquired 1,932 Rite Aid stores (1,542 of them at the end of the second quarter, and the rest since then), and plans to purchase three distribution centers and related inventory in fiscal 2019. Walgreens expects integration to be complete by the end of fiscal 2020. As part of that acquisition, Walgreens is planning to close about 600 stores over the next 18 months.

“Our growth strategy of increasing and consolidating volume, differentiating ourselves through value and quality of service, and controlling costs is bearing fruit across our businesses,” said Walgreens executive vice chairman and chief executive officer Stefano Pessina. “This is reflected in another good set of financial results in which we delivered the highest sales growth in eight quarters, as well as strong cash generation and record U.S. pharmacy market share. We expect to continue to grow, in part through the recent acquisition of stores from Rite Aid, and today we are raising our fiscal 2018 guidance.”

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