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Why Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. Stock Popped 12.7% in July

By Steve Symington – Aug 11, 2018 at 9:45AM

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The pharmacy chain rebounded after a steep drop in late June. Here's what investors need to know.

What happened

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA 2.67%) climbed 12.7% in July, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, rebounding on the heels of its plunge in late June after's threatening purchase of online pharmacy PillPack.

Shares of Walgreens fell 10% on June 28 alone as the market reacted to Amazon's purchase, which many industry watchers viewed as putting the online retail behemoth in direct competition with the broader pharmacy sector. But Walgreens shares promptly bounced back over the next several days, and then continued to drift higher throughout the month of July as opportunistic investors increasingly viewed the pullback as a chance to open or add to their positions in the otherwise strong business.

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So what

Incidentally, Walgreens itself may be among those opportunistic buyers. The same day the stock plunged on the Amazon/PillPack news, Walgreens' board also not only authorized a stock repurchase program for as much as $10 billion of its shares outstanding but also increased the company's quarterly dividend by 10% to $0.44 per share.

Now what

Keeping in mind that the latter marked Walgreens' 43rd straight year of raising its dividend, CFO James Kehoe called the moves a demonstration of the company's long-term commitment to return cash to stockholders. 

Of course, that doesn't remove the potential competitive threat that a combined Amazon and PillPack might pose to Walgreens over the long run. But with Walgreens stock now trading at just 10.3 times this year's expected earnings even after last month's pop, it's hard to blame the market for bidding up the stock in response.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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