WOONSOCKET, RI-Despite stiff competition over generic drugs from rival chains, drugstore giant CVS said sales were up 24.3% to $4.4 billion in September, rising nearly $1 billion over the $3.5 billion in sales for the same period a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year were also up by 8.8% in the five weeks ended Sept. 30, the company said.

The Woonsocket, RI drugstore chain took the unusual step of announcing its September results after rival Wal-Mart said it plans to begin offering some generic drugs at $4 per prescription. Thomas M. Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer of CVS Corp., said in a conference call that those 300 generic drugs represent less than 5% of the firm’s total pharmacy sales and 24% of its prescriptions.

Helped by the June acquisition of 701 Sav-On and Osco drugstores, CVS total sales soared 24.9% during the third quarter, rising to $11.2 billion from $9 billion during the same quarter a year earlier.

Sales at stores open at least a year were also up, increasing by 9.1% from the year ago period with same store sales growing 10.2% in the pharmacy and general merchandise sales rising 6.4%. The acquired stores were not factored into the same-store sales results, the company said.

The drugstore chain, which operates about 6,200 stores in 43 states, said September sales were also strong, increasing 24.3% to $4.4 billion while comparative store sales were up 8.8% in the five weeks ended Sept. 30.

“Obviously, we’re very pleased with this continued strong performance,” Ryan said in a conference call with investors and analysts. “We have strong results across the board, across geographies, for the entire quarter.”

The quarter’s positive numbers sparked the Woonsocket, RI drugstore chain to raise its yearly and third quarter earnings guidance to between 31 cents and 33 cents per share, up from the 28 cents to 30 cents per share it previously expected for the quarter. The new earnings numbers were above analysts’ expectations of 30 cents per share.

For the year, CVS raised its earnings forecast to between $1.50 and $1.54 per share, up from prior expectations of $1.47 to $1.51 per share.

Analysts expect the firm to report $1.52 in per share earnings or the year. The company plans to report its full-third quarter earnings on Nov. 2.

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