Walgreens Boots Alliance 1Q17 Earnings Call Notes

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Walgreens Boots Alliance’s (WBA) CEO Stefano Pessina on Q1 2017 Results

Appears to be a solid holiday period

“Holiday shopping started later than usual, with the bulk of the sale occurring in the last days before Christmas. That said, we have once again seen what appears to be a solid holiday period in our main retail market.”

Would like to do something in China but it’s difficult

“But you see countries like China, for instance are still enormously interested. I remember that in China we have a good presence in sales but not as a retailer and this is due to a historical reason that until three years ago the foreign people could have just 30 pharmacies. So, we had 30 pharmacies, we were 29 in Brazil. So, we were prevented by the pharmacies there.”…

“The problem is that you have to dedicate a lot of time to get a deal in China, and it’s true that we have a team in China, a permanent team in China of Chinese people, but it is also true that to do a big deal in China, you must have the agreement of the Chairman of the relevant company and the Chairman generally doesn’t want to talk to the Chairman.

China is really, it’s a very high hierarchical society. And so, it’s also true that in the last two years, I have not gone to China as frequently as I used to go. And so I was not able to keep the relationship as I should have done, but now I have gone to China, I have spent some time to China in the last months and now we are back and I believe, I strongly believe that sooner or later we will be able to do something. When? I don’t know, but it is possible.”

The changes to ACA are going to be rational no matter what

“We really believe that we could start to work on hypotheses with information that we have. We have a lot of affirmation that will appeal the ObamaCare okay, but after they say yes, but maybe we have to give something similar. We have to create a transition. It’s very difficult to understand what worked practically, the new administration will decide to do because for sure will try to do something sensible and rationale and they will start something, which will not be to the detriment of the citizens.

So, it will take some time to start, probably the outcome will be quiet rationale and at that time we will be able to organize ourselves and prepare our business to respond to the new environment. We don’t have to be taken by panic, just because the rules, mainly rules – the rules are changed. We have to wait for the changes and after rationally we will decide how to react without panicking.”

Too early to say on tax reform

“I can answer on the second part of the question whether we have some ideas on the coming tax reform, I can repeat the same thing I said before, now there is not a project of tax reform there are certain principle, people are discussing about certain principle, not everybody in the administration agrees on the same principle and even if they are on the same principle they don’t agree on the level on their quantity of the principles. So it’s a waste of time today to start to create a scenario, which very likely would be in reality substantially different. So, let’s see when we will have the frame of the tax and after we will start immediately to think how we can leave with these new environment.

In any case we will not have a new tax system tomorrow morning, it will take months and we will have time to see how this will shape over time and when we believe that we are close to a final shaper we will start to see how we can work, but even though having looked at the taxes – at the different principle that are now have been debated, yes, there are certain principle who could damage us, but there are other principle who could benefit us and it is clear that the principle who could damage us, who would damage all our peer and so the market will find another equilibrium and other assets.

So, at the end of today, the conclusion is that for the time being we have to continue to work with the rules that are in place today and probably one year or two year or three year, we will have to change if something, but now it’s too early to distract how people – to do things, which should probably will never happen before the end, the mixture will be completely different.”