UPDATE 3-Shoppers Drug Mart prescription sales rise; shares jump

Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:22pm EST
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* Earnings per share meet analysts' estimates

* Sales up 3.2 pct, slightly ahead of forecasts

* Prescription count jumps 6 pct

* Shares rise 3.2 pct to C$42.42 on Toronto Stock Exchange

By Allison Martell

Nov 13 (Reuters) - Shoppers Drug Mart Corp said on Tuesday revenue from prescriptions grew in the third quarter despite the drag of regulatory changes, sending its shares higher, even though profit slipped at Canada's largest drugstore chain.

Shoppers' retail prescription count jumped 6 percent, more than offsetting the impact of provincial reforms that cut government support and pulled down the average value of each prescription filled. The company's total prescription sales rose 1.7 percent to C$1.54 billion ($1.54 billion).

Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough said the accelerating prescription count beat expectations, and was likely lifting the stock. In the previous four quarters, prescription count growth averaged 3.7 percent.

Higher operating and administrative costs held back profit at Shoppers, but share buybacks pushed earnings per share slightly higher.   Continued...