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Investment Overview for Walgreen Co. (NYSE:WAG)
In June 2012, Walgreen acquired a 45% stake in European pharmacy business Alliance Boots for $6.7 billion, paying $4 billion in cash and 83.4 million in shares. The deal was received with investor skepticism about the cost and timing of the deal and the risks associated with increased exposure to the ongoing European economic uncertainties and increase in debt (~$11 billion). Nonetheless, Walgreen sees long-term sense in the trans-Atlantic alliance as the deal creates the first global pharmacy business with 11,000 stores in 12 countries. It provides Walgreen with a large platform for further international expansion based on Alliance's experience in expanding into new markets such as China and Latin America, along with the opportunity to turn Alliance Boots into a global wholesaler. In November 2014, Walgreen secured financing to close the transaction, as well as refinance the majority of Alliance Boots outstanding debt. Pending shareholder approval, it expects the transaction to close on December 31.
By 2016, Walgreen aims to achieve the following four goals: 1) sales of $130 billion, including Alliance Boots share, as well as associates and joint venture sales; 2) synergies of $1 billion; 3) operating cash flow of $8 billion; and, 4) net debt of $11 billion.
In March 2013, Walgreen and Alliance Boots, furthering their relationship as “Earth’s Drugstore” signed a deal with U.S. distributor AmerisourceBergen that will pool purchasing power to buy generic and branded prescription drugs around the world. The 10-year agreement with AmerisourceBergen ended Walgreen’s relationship with rival distributor Cardinal Health. Walgreen currently distributes more than 80% of its own drugs but over time most (if not all) of that distribution will be handled by AmerisourceBergen.
In July 2012, Walgreen acquired a 144-store strong regional drug retail chain, USA Drug, owned by Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings Inc., in a $438 million mostly-stock deal. The retail chain includes names such as USA Drug, Super D Drug, May's Drug Stores, Med-X Drugs and Drug Warehouse and has a major presence in mid-Southern United States.
Walgreens's Share of Retail Prescriptions Filled in the US: Walgreens' share of the total prescriptions filled in the US declined to 17.4% in 2012 as a result of its dispute with Express Scripts and loss of a major chunk of the corresponding 90 million prescriptions. The two reached a fresh agreement to allow Express customers fill prescriptions at Walgreen stores, starting September 15, 2012, which helped Walgreen regain its lost market share in 2013 and 2014. The company has a 22% share in the retail prescriptions filled in the U.S. in 2014. We believe Walgreen's share in retail prescriptions filled in the U.S. will reach 24% by the end of our review period, based on the strength of its retail network as well as an increase in online sales post the acquisition of Drugstore.com. If Walgreen's market share in retail prescriptions stays constant due to slow growth, inability to attract lost and sticky customers or loss of more business, there could be an approximate 10% downside to our current price estimate.
EBITDA Margin for Prescription Drug Sales: We currently forecast EBITDA margins for prescription drugs sales to rise consistently over our forecast horizon, from 9.9% in 2014 to 11% over the next few years. This increase is largely expected due to higher pharmacy margins resulting from an increase in generic drug sales, cost savings resulting from Walgreen's restructuring initiatives and greater buying power as a result of the agreement with AmerisourceBergen. However, if gross margins stay close to the current level, on account of an increase in reimbursement pressure from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (particularly in light of the ongoing industry consolidation), there could be a less than 10% downside to the Trefis price estimate.
Walgreen is the largest drugstore chain in the US, which sells both prescription and non-prescription drugs as well as retail merchandise (cosmetics, convenience foods, photo processing services, seasonal merchandise). In addition to its store offerings, Walgreen provides pharmacy services like prescription fulfillment through mail order, telephone and internet.
Walgreen operates the largest network of over 8,200 locations across the US, with over 75% of US population living within a five mile radius of a typical Walgreen retail store.
Walgreen's operational efficiency is noteworthy as its average chain wide retail sales per square foot is approximately $800, higher than that of Wal-Mart and other retail stores that sell drugs and general merchandise. Of these, around $300 come from general merchandise sales. Prescription drug sales account for approximately 65% of total revenues for Walgreen.
Prescription drug sales are the biggest source of value for Walgreen Co., accounting for more than 60% of its total value.
Accessibility and affordability by virtue of largest U.S. drugstore network
Walgreen has the largest network of over 8,200 pharmacy locations conveniently located within a five mile of nearly three-quarters of all Americans.
Walgreen's health service providers communicate face-to-face, on a personal level, with patients in ways to improve overall health care outcomes. Walgreen stores prove to be convenient, easily accessible and more affordable to its customers as a result of their significant scale and deeper penetration in the U.S. pharmacy market.
Poised to rake in higher sales than any U.S. retailer
Because of its strong market position Walgreen has over $800 in retail sales per square foot out of which prescription drug sales generate about $500 per square foot. This is higher than Wal-mart's $400 sales per square foot.
Walgreen accounts for 22% of the retail prescriptions filled in the U.S. at present, and we expect its market share to increase in the future as Walgreen's pace of new store additions is expected to be higher than that of any other US retail drugstore chain.
Increasing demand and utilization of prescription drugs in the U.S.
The U.S. has an aging population, and as older people contribute to a larger proportion of expenditure on drugs (people above 60 spend an average 2-3 times more than those below 40), this will lead to an increase in the prescription drugs market in the U.S. The 2010 U.S. health reform legislation is also expected to increase prescription drug sales, as over 30 million uninsured Americans will gain coverage and the U.S. government will accordingly increase outlay on prescription drugs. This will be driven by an expansion of Medicaid and Medicare Part D plans.
Accelerating sales of generic drugs
Generic drugs offer approximately 50% higher gross margins compared to branded drugs. The total generic dispensing rate, which factors the percentage of generic drugs in a consumer’s prescription, grew to 78.5% in 2012, from 74.1% and 71.5% in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Generic drugs continued to replace branded drugs in 2013 and 2014, albeit at a slower pace.
In the last year, Walgreen claims that the market has shifted from historical patterns of deflation in generic drug costs into inflation, a trend that is negatively impacting margins. The company has witnessed higher costs for a subset of generic drugs and in some cases the increase has been significant. Walgreen believes that generic drugs inflation will continue to negatively impact gross margins in the near term.
Walgreen is working to minimize the impact of inflation by tracking the movement of AWP (Average Wholesale Price), working with market participants to help them understand the importance of appropriate AWP adjustments to represent changes in actual drug costs, evolving its payer contracts to reflect the realities of an inflationary versus a deflationary market, and working through its joint venture with AmerisourceBergen (ABC) to secure better costs.
How Does Trefis Modelling Work?
How do we get the historical numbers for this chart?
Trefis has a team of in-house Analysts who gather historical data from company filings and other verifiable sources. When historicals are available, we explain how we got them at the bottom of the Trefis analysis section below.
Who came up with the Trefis forecast for future years?
The Trefis team of in-house Analysts considers a variety of factors when projecting any forecast. The rationale for our projections is explained in the Trefis analysis section below.
How does my dragging the trendline on the chart impact the stock price?
- We use forecasts for business drivers to calculate forecasted Revenues and Profits for each division of the company.
- We then use forecasted Profits in a Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model to obtain the Price Estimate for the company.
See more on: DCF Methodology
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