If you think Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA 3.69%) is just a pharmacy chain, you're not working with the same information that knowledgeable investors have about the stock. Despite its popular reputation as a mainstream prescription-filler, it's actually branching out into a couple of new avenues, like providing healthcare directly, which might help it make a turnaround. And that could ultimately catalyze its stock to move higher.

Let's take a look at three things that smart investors appreciate about this stock so that you'll get a better picture of where it is, where it's going, and whether it'll be a good pickup for your portfolio.

1. It just got a cash infusion of $900 million

Walgreens owns a significant number of shares in AmerisourceBergen, a major medical supply business, and on May 11 it announced that it had sold 6 million of those shares for $150 each, netting a cool payoff of $900 million. Management says that the proceeds from the sale will go to reducing the company's debt load of more than $38.2 billion, and also that the transaction had a favorable return on investment. It still owns around 25% of AmerisourceBergen's outstanding shares, so the door is still open for future sales of a similar size.

Given that the portion of its debt and capital lease obligations due within a year totals above $5 billion and it only reported trailing 12-month net income of around $5.4 billion, Walgreens needs as much breathing room as it can get. Smart investors pay attention to bearish signals -- like when a company is liquidating its long-held investments to service its debt -- because they can portend trouble. 

2. Its dividend could keep rising

Despite its limited headroom between its net income and looming debt servicing costs, Walgreens could still keep hiking its dividend simply because it'd look bad if it broke its 46-year streak of annual dividend increases. Over the last ten years, the retailer raised its payout by more than 73%, but in the last three years the pace has slowed to a crawl, with growth of around only 4.4%. Right now, its forward dividend yield is above 4.9%, which is quite high.

Wise investors know that ratcheting up the dividend at a faster pace may be unsustainable, so the pace is likely intentional. By the same token, unless the company's profitability or quarterly net income improve significantly, which management implies is unlikely in the near term, there's not much reason to hold out hope for anything to change on that front anytime soon.

3. Providing healthcare is still in the early stages 

Like other pharmacy chains, such as CVS Health, Walgreens is diversifying its business into offering insurance plans as well as outpatient clinics for basic health services. In its third fiscal quarter, the Walgreens Health segment brought in $596 million, though it isn't yet making more money than it spends. By the end of its fiscal year, management is aiming for revenue from this segment to grow by 104% year-over-year, which would amount to around $2 billion for 2022.

Growth at that pace won't be sustainable for long, but it could easily slow down by quite a bit and still be significant. Furthermore, the company's trailing 12-month revenue totaled $134.5 billion, so a couple of billion more on the margin won't do much for the top line. Nonetheless, there's no other area in the business that's expanding anywhere near as rapidly, so savvy investors are likely to keep a close eye on Walgreens' penetration of its new market.