Kroger Gains, Beats Estimates In Q3

For the third quarter ended November 3, supermarket operator and Fred Meyer parent The Kroger Co. reported net earnings of $316.5 million, or 60 cents per diluted share including a 14 cent per diluted share benefit from a settlement with Visa and MasterCard, and from a reduction in the company’s obligation to a United Food and Commercial Workers Union pension fund. Identical store sales, without fuel, increased 3.2% in the third quarter.

Adjusted net earnings of 46 cents per diluted share topped 33 cents per diluted share from net earnings of $195.9 million in last year’s period.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters anticipated Kroger posting earnings of 43 cents per diluted share.

Total sales, including fuel, advanced 5.9% to $21.8 billion in the third quarter. Operating profit came in at $594.8 million versus $404.4 million in the 2011 quarter.

Consumers visited stores more frequently and purchased more on a monthly basis, buying more items per trip in the quarter, Rodney McMullen, Kroger president and COO, said in a conference call.