Pharmacy stocks tumble on report Amazon is weighing a push into physical pharmacies

Amazon Pharmacy

Shares of drug retailers including Walgreens Boots Alliance and CVS dropped on Wednesday, as Amazon was reported to be looking at options to set up physical pharmacy locations in the US.

Talks at Amazon about setting up standalone pharmacies are mostly exploratory and there are no firm plans to open physical locations, three people familiar with the matter told Insider. Such a move would be part of a plan by the online retail behemoth to earn a larger share of the country’s $370 billion prescription drug market.

Shares of Walgreens fell by as much as 5.7% then pared the loss to 3.5%. Rite Aid tumbled by 6.4% before trimming the decline to 2.1%. CVS was down 1.7% after a pullback of nearly 4%. In the retail pharmacy space, the trading wiped out $6 billion in market value within an hour of the report’s publication.

Meanwhile, shares of drug wholesalers AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health shed 0.6% but were off session lows. McKesson moved down 1.1%.

November marked the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, through which people purchase their prescription medications online and receive them with two-day shipping if they have a Prime membership. Amazon entered the business of prescription-drug sales when it purchased online pharmacy PillPack in 2018.

Amazon embarking on any meaningful rollout of stores could take more than a year, one source told Insider.

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Rite Aid plunges 22% after cutting its full-year forecast as the drugstore chain saw fewer people getting colds and coughs

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  • Shares in Rite Aid fell 22% at the market open on Thursday after the company cut its full-year forecast.
  • A decline in cases related to cough, cold, and flu hurt the drugstore chain’s fourth-quarter sales.
  • Social distancing measures and a long winter impacted its fourth-quarter sales, the chain said.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Rite Aid fell by as much as 22% on Thursday after the company said its full-year results would be undermined by declining numbers of people falling sick with colds and coughs.

The retail drugstore industry has been hit by a weak sales season, due to measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus, the company said. As a result of physical distancing, face masks, and use of sanitizers, Rite Aid said it saw a decline of nearly 37% in its cough, cold, and flu-related product categories.

Rite Aid revised its expected full-year earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation to between $425 million and $435 million, from a prior forecast of between $490 and $520 million.

“During the fourth quarter, our industry was impacted by a historically soft cough, cold and flu season, as well as the continued impacts of COVID on the deferral of elective procedures and related acute prescription volume and selling, general and administrative expenses,” president and CEO Heyward Donigan said in a statement.

Front-end same store sales, a key metric that determines how well existing locations are performing, fell 5.6% for the company’s fourth quarter that ended on February 27. The winter season also contributed to a slump in its supply chain and a drop in sales, Rite Aid said.

Rite Aid shares closed at $23.34 per share on Wednesday, but sank 22% to $18.28 per share at Thursday’s market open.

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