The Eckerd drugstore merger story was back in the news yesterday, no doubt frustrating longtime sector watchers who are at this point aching for a little less conversation and a little more action (apologies to Elvis). But while the timing of any deal is impossible to predict, the stars now seem to be aligning in the direction of an actual transaction involving J.C. Penney
Yesterday, a Merrill Lynch research note said that CVS
Recent media reports have CVS and Canadian-owned Jean Coutu in talks to split Eckerd along North-South lines, with the former getting some 1,200 Southern stores and Coutu bagging the balance, about 1,500. Rite Aid
Either way, J.C. Penney no longer counts Eckerd as a continuing operation, and its investors will surely cheer the removal of the division from its books -- as well as the additional financial pop it will need to compete in the cutthroat retail space.
The addition of 1,200 new stores to either CVS or Rite Aid stands to instantly create a market leader, with Walgreens at about 4,300 stores, compared with roughly 4,200 and 3,400 for CVS and Rite Aid, respectively.
Talk about this ongoing saga on our J.C. Penney discussion boards.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own any of the companies in this story.