) to buy from hold.
Analyst John Dahl says Rite Aid has done a laudable job moving the needle on the front-end side of its business. He says monthly comparable-store sales growth in the front-end has recently moved up into 5% to 7% region, vs. low-single-digit comparisons experienced earlier this year.
Dahl says improvements in the drugstore chain's execution and merchandise mix should continue to spur solid performance. He believes it's only a matter of time before Rite Aid demonstrates tangible improvements to the pharmacy side of its business, which should add upside for the company.
Dahl sees 8 cents fiscal 2004 (Feb.) earnings per share, and 22 cents in fiscal 2005. He has a $7.50 target.