That could mean more than $1.4 billion in 2003 constructionalone, based on recent deals of $3-million-plus, and more than $11billion through the next eight years. While the company has morethan $2 billion in real estate on its books, Walgreens storestypically are spun off to investors eying triple-net leasepayments. The company will pay a minimum of $898 million in rent in2003, according to its annual report filed with the Securities andExchange Commission, with $15.2 billion owed during the terms ofthe leases.

"All indications tell us it's the right time to expand," thecompany adds. "America's pharmacy sales are forecast to increase60% in just four years, and there's plenty of opportunity forgrowth—we now fill only 12% of the nation's prescriptions."

Walgreens boasts that it has closed just two of the 3,109 storesit has opened in the last 10 years. One of those closings came inNovember, when the company opened 47 new stores and relocated nineothers. Meanwhile, Walgreens reported sales of $2.5 billion for themonth, up 12% from November 2001. The same-store increase was 7%,according to the company.

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