The Camp Hill, Pa., company said Thursday it lost $163.8 million, or 18 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 3. That compares to a loss of $208.1 million, or 24 cents per share, in the final quarter of fiscal 2011.
Revenue climbed 11 percent to $7.15 billion from $6.46 billion a year ago.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, a loss of 14 cents per share on $7.15 billion in revenue.
Rite Aid is the third-largest U.S. drugstore chain, trailing both Walgreen Co. and CVS Caremark Corp. The company has posted a string of quarterly losses dating back to 2007, but its revenue has improved and its losses have narrowed over the past several quarters.
The company said revenue from stores open at least a year rose 3 percent in the most recent quarter compared to last year's quarter. The performance was helped by a 3.8 percent increase in pharmacy sales, which grew despite a hit from the introduction of some new generic drugs that are cheaper than brand-name products. Sales in the front-end, or rest of the store, grew 1.6 percent.
Revenue at stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of retailer health because it leaves out results from locations that have opened or closed in the last year.
A split between Walgreen and pharmacy benefits manger Express Scripts Inc. helped Rite Aid fill more prescriptions. Express Scripts had paid Walgreen to fill prescriptions, but a contract between those companies expired in December. The split meant many Express Scripts customers had to find new drugstores for their prescriptions.
Rite Aid also said its lease termination and impairment charges fell more than 63 percent in the quarter, and it recorded a $24.2 million income tax benefit as opposed to a $1.5 million expense last year.
An inventory accounting charge of 14 cents per share balanced these gains. The charge, calculated under the LIFO method, accounts for inventory that assumes a company sells its newest inventory first. The company takes a credit or charge each quarter according to the anticipated inflation rate for the year and then finalizes the expense in the fourth quarter.
For the full fiscal year, Rite Aid lost $378.6 million, or 43 cents per share, versus a net loss of $564.9 million, or 64 cents a share, a year ago. Annual revenue rose to $26.12 billion from $25.2 billion a year ago.
For 2013, it expects a loss of between 13 cents and 31 cents per share on revenue of between $25.4 billion and $25.8 billion.
Analysts expect, on average, a loss of 24 cents per share on $25.88 billion in revenue.
Rite Aid operated 4,667 stores at the end of the fiscal year, compared to 4,714 at the end of the previous year.
Company shares slipped 2 cents to $1.68 in pre-market trading Thursday.