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Rite Aid raises full-year forecast after strong third quarter

(Adds forecast, shares, estimates)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Rite Aid Corp, the third largest U.S. drugstore chain, raised its full-year earnings forecast after cutting it twice this year as higher sales of prescription drugs pushed up its profit and revenue in the third quarter.

Rite Aid's shares jumped 13.3 percent to $6.87 in heavy premarket trading.

The company has been remodeling its stores, cutting costs and enrolling more seniors - the biggest spenders at pharmacies - in its loyalty programs to boost sales.

Rite Aid also expanded a deal with U.S. drug distributor McKesson Corp to lower its cost of generic drugs.

Rite Aid, which sells over-the-counter drugs, personal care items and food and beverages, raised its profit forecast for the year ending February to 31-37 cents per share from 22-33 cents.

It also raised its revenue forecast to $26.25 billion-$26.4 billion from $26 billion-$26.3 billion and its same-store sales growth forecast to 3.75-4.25 percent from 3-4 percent.

Rite Aid cut its full-year profit forecast in September for the second time this year, saying it expected a fall in reimbursement rates and margins in its pharmacy business.

The company's net income jumped 46.5 percent to $104.9 million, or 10 cents per share, in the quarter ended Nov. 29.

Revenue rose 5.3 percent to $6.69 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 5 cents per share and revenue of $6.65 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Same-store sales rose 5.4 percent, with the number of prescriptions filled at comparable stores increasing 4.5 percent.

Prescription drug sales accounted for nearly three-quarters of the company's total drugstore sales.

(Reporting by Shailaja Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)