Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), one of the leading retail pharmacy chains, will be using robots to mitigate the problems caused by a shortage of pharmacists across the U.S. As per a Wall Street Journal report, the company is establishing a network of automated drug-filling centers and expects the use of robots in these centers to reduce pharmacists’ workloads by at least one-fourth. Walgreens predicts this move to generate annual savings of over $1 billion.
According to Walgreens, this initiative will help pharmacists by giving them more time to offer medical services, like administering vaccinations, providing patient outreach, and even prescribing certain drugs. Such services are emerging as an attractive revenue stream for drugstores. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a spike in the demand for skilled professionals for testing and administering vaccines. Indeed, Walgreens and other retail pharmacies played a major role in COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Amid a severe shortage of pharmacists, Walgreens has been cutting down pharmacy hours at its U.S. stores. It is also trying to lure new pharmacists by offering signing bonuses of up to $75,000, as per the WSJ report. Other pharmacy chains and retailers have also been investing significantly in automation amid severe labor shortage. With its robotic work force, Walgreens seems to have hit upon a solution to the employee shortage.
Is WBA a Good Stock to Buy?
Analysts are currently sidelined on Walgreens Boots Alliance stock. The Hold consensus rating is based on three Holds and one Sell. The average WBA stock price target of $41 implies 30.6% upside potential from current levels. Shares have plunged nearly 39% so far this year. This new robotic development might help provoke a turnaround for WBA stock.