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DEERFIELD, IL-Walgreen Co. is on track to have 7,000 stores by 2010 and is pursuing the acquisition of other chains, management said in the company’s third-quarter earnings release. The drugstore chain operated 5,751 stores at the end of the quarter, which was May 31.

Walgreen has 500 store openings planned for the year and the company opened 129 units during the quarter. In the first nine months of the fiscal year, the chain has opened 359 new stores.

The company is also looking at acquiring other chains, says David Hans, Walgreen’s chief investment officer. Other than drugstores, the company is considering the purchase of other health-related chains, such Take Care Health Systems, a chain of clinics it bought in May.

Walgreen posted another strong fiscal period during the quarter. Same-store sales rose 7.8% year over year, with front-end transactions rising 5.6% and pharmacy sales up 9%. Total sales shot up 12.5%, to $13.7 billion, while earnings shot up 19.6%, hitting $561 million.

For the first nine months, sales rose 14.5%, hitting $40.3 billion, while earnings increased 22.9%, to just more than $1.6 billion.

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