In what's almost certain to be an eventful fiscal 2017 for Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA), the company kicked it off by delivering a first quarter that was basically in line with analysts' expectations.

For the period, the company's sales totaled $28.5 billion, a 2% drop from the same quarter of the previous year, while comparable-store sales increased by 1.1%. Adjusted net income rose by 6% to just over $1.2 billion ($1.10 per diluted share). The latter figure was in line with analysts' average estimate. Revenue fell a bit short of the market's expectation of $29.3 billion.

"Overall we are pleased with the progress this quarter, with results in line with our expectations," Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said in the press release unveiling the figures.

The company also revised its forward guidance, upping the lower end of its anticipated net profit range. It is now projecting adjusted earnings per share of $4.90 to $5.20; the previous estimated ranges was $4.85 to $5.20. Adjusted EPS for 2016 was $4.59.

If all goes well, Walgreens planned merger with Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) should be consummated this year. Absorbing Rite Aid, currently the No. 4 pharmacy chain operator in the U.S., would give the acquirer -- already No. 1 -- an even more dominant position in its niche.

Rite Aid agreed last October to be purchased in a deal valued at more than $17 billion. The Federal Trade Commission, however, has mandated that the two sell off at least 500 stores in order to gain its approval for the acquisition. Last month, the pair agreed to sell 865 Rite Aid locations to peer pharmacy chain operator Fred's, contingent upon the FTC's assent to the merger.

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Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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