It was good news for Alliance Boots last week after the pharmaceutical wholesaler, health and beauty group booked its third consecutive year of double digit trading profit growth since going private.

The company reported a trading profit of £1.10 billion for the year ended March 31, 2010, marking growth of nearly 13% over the prior year, while underlying profit (after tax) more than doubled to £602 million.

In addition, the group said it generated cash of £1.13 billion from its operations and was able to slash its net debt by £645 million for the 12-month period.

Growth was driven by an impressive performance by its pharmaceutical wholesaling division, sales of which jumped 10.3% to £12.4 billion helping to bolster the division’s trading profit by 17.2% to £252 million. Moreover, with further selective deals with manufacturers in the pipeline, the near-term future is looking decidedly rosy for the unit.

The health and beauty division, which includes the company’s pharmacy arm, also fared well, with sales up 5.2% at £7.5 billion and trading profit climbing 8.5% to £730 million from the year-ago period.

Dispensing and related income grew 1.7%, as good dispensing volume growth – up 4% on a like-for-like basis - was partially offset by lower average revenue per prescription, largely because of lower generic reimbursement prices, Alliance Boots said.

Upbeat outlook
Commenting on the firm’s performance and outlook, executive chairman Stefano Pessina said “since taking the company private, this is our third consecutive year of double digit trading profit growth”, and that its strong financial position “will enable us to continue to grow both organically and through acquisitions”.

Also optimistic about the future, Andy Hornby, group chief executive, added that despite continued subdued consumer demand in Europe “we are confident about our prospects for the year ahead”.