Walgreen Co , the largest U.S. drugstore chain, posted a slightly smaller quarterly profit on Tuesday, weighed down by weak sales of summer merchandise and costs behind its strategy to makeover its stores and streamline its overall operations.

Analysts have applauded Walgreen's efforts such as sprucing up stores with lower shelves and fewer items, cutting back on store openings and planning a loyalty program. But they say it will take time for them to pay off.

Profit fell to $436 million, or 44 cents per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter ended on August 31, from $443 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included 3 cents in costs and 7 cents in savings from Walgreen's transformation plans.

Sales rose 7.6 percent to $15.7 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.4 percent.

Walgreen has continued to see weak demand for general merchandise in the challenging economy. Last week, rival Rite Aid said consumers shopping at its drugstores were focused on buying items on sale.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl; Editing by Derek Caney)