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Walgreens posts strong 4Q earns, but delays Rite Aid deal

Walgreens Boots Alliance earnings topped $1 billion during the fourth quarter, easily surpassing analyst expectations, but the drugstore giant also announced a delay in closing its latest megadeal.

The company said Thursday that it expects to wrap up its $9.4-billion purchase of rival Rite Aid Corp. early next year, rather than by the end of 2016. Walgreens leaders then cautioned analysts against reading too much into the delay.

"As far as we can see today, we are absolutely confident that we can do the deal and create the value," Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Stefano Pessina said during a conference call.

Shares of the nation's largest drugstore chain...