The holidays may be over, but the season for colds, flu, and related maladies isn't, and CVS (NYSE:CVS) says it has been a beneficiary of all the sniffling, sneezing, and aching. The company said its December same-store sales rose nearly 10% compared to last year, and predicted that its 2003 earnings will surpass guidance, pushing its shares to a new high today.

Same-store pharmacy sales alone grew 11.2% in December, while sales of the stuff available in the front of the store increased 6.1%. Total pharmacy sales represented 65.2% of total company sales in December. CVS says it will now exceed its 2003 forecast of $1.95-$2.00 per share.

Of course, other drugstore chains have been enjoying the very same climate. From over-the-counter cough syrup and pain relievers to prescription meds for those particularly virulent bugs, the story seems to be the same. After all, earlier this month Jeff Hwang reported that the No. 1 name in drugstores, Walgreen (NYSE:WAG), was enjoying a similar flu-related windfall, with its December same-store sales growing 13%.

For those Foolish readers who sounded off to me in October regarding disappointing service at CVS, especially in the pharmacy area, the companies that hope you'll ditch CVS include Walgreen, Rite-Aid (NYSE:RAD), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), and Target (NYSE:TGT).

For now, though, the numbers imply that CVS is still high on the list of names people turn to when the flu hits. The company, with more than 4,000 stores in 32 states, has a high profile and convenience factor. How much longer the flu effect will lift druggists' sales is another matter, considering CDC reports that cases are on the decrease.

Shares of CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreen all rose in Tuesday's session.

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