Walgreens shares surge on plans to boost focus on health services

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s new CEO Roz Brewer said Thursday that the drugstore chain will sharpen its focus on health care and turn it into the company’s “new growth engine.”

At a virtual investor day, she said the company’s nearly 9,000 stores across the U.S. will become places where customers can go to a doctor appointment, get medical tests and seek advice from a nurse or pharmacist. Those services will be under a new division of the company called Walgreens Health.

“This new Walgreens Health will make a difference and will began to transform us away from retail and just dispensing pharmaceuticals,” she said in an interview with CNBC’s Bertha Coombs. “It will be about the lives that we manage, and the lives that we touch and the lives that we can wrap physician and clinicians around in our buildings, both physically and digitally.”

Investors appeared receptive to Walgreens’ plan. Shares closed up 7.4% at $50.77 on Thursday. So far this year, shares are up more than 29%.

Brian Tanquilut, an equity research analyst for Jefferies, said Walgreens delivered on what many investors wanted Thursday by spelling out how it will become a proactive health-care player.

“Right now, people are saying, ‘It’s a sound strategy and we’ll give you a little bit of credit for that'” he said.

Walgreen’s plan calls for opening hundreds of primary care clinics, shaking up its selection of front-of-store merchandise and taking a stake in several health-care companies.

The company expects that strategy to pay off in the coming years. Next year, adjusted earnings per share are expected to show flat growth on a constant currency basis, it said. But growth will accelerate so that adjusted earnings per share will rise about 4% annually over the next three years. Beyond fiscal 2024, the company’s growth algorithm will lead to adjusted earnings per share growth of between 11% and 13%.

Brewer pointed to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings as evidence that Walgreens is building on a firm foundation.

Tanquilut said the new vision for Walgreens is a notable pivot.

“You are making the pharmacy a health center,” he said. “Instead of having a retail focus, the driver of value is no longer driving scripts [prescriptions] out of the pharmacy. It’s actually delivering care and making the patient loyal to the store.”

Ramping up health services

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Short home workouts can boost your mood and reduce stress : Shots

Add five-minute stints of fun and easy exercise to your day at home by working with what’s around you, says trainer Molly McDonald.

Cha Pornea for NPR


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Cha Pornea for NPR


Add five-minute stints of fun and easy exercise to your day at home by working with what’s around you, says trainer Molly McDonald.

Cha Pornea for NPR

Of all the ways in which the pandemic has affected Americans’ well-being, perhaps the one we’ve noticed least is how much we’re sitting. And it’s not just bad for our waistlines — it’s hurting our mental health.

More than a year and a half of social distancing and work-from-home policies have led to less time moving around and more time sitting and looking at screens — it’s a potentially toxic combination that’s linked with poorer mental health.

“The sneaky effects of the pandemic that we might not even notice [is] that we’ve changed our sitting patterns,” says Jacob Meyer, director of the Wellbeing and Exercise lab at Iowa State University.

His own research showed that in the early weeks of the pandemic, people who exercised less and had more screen time were likely to be stressed, depressed and lonely.

And though most people saw their mental health gradually improve as they adapted to a new reality, people who stayed mostly sedentary didn’t see get the same improvement, according to a follow-up study by Meyer. “People who continued to have really high levels of sitting, their depression didn’t improve” as much, says Meyer.

The good news is that something as simple as some very light movement around the house to break up all that couch surfing time can make a difference in mood, as Meyer’s earlier research has found.

Scores of previous studies confirm that being physically active boosts mood, lowers anxiety and improves sleep quality.

“We know consistently that the more people are active, the more that they exercise, the better their mental health is,” says Meyer.

For many office workers like me, working from home means we’ve fallen into a routine of spending hours at our desk. With another pandemic winter about to hit us and much of the country and the world still dealing with COVID-19, we are often stuck at home more than we’d like, so it’s time to start sitting less and moving around more.

Meyer and other exercise experts shared some tips

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