Kroger struggled in the first quarter as the supermarket retailer faced increasing price pressure from its grocery store competition.
For the first quarter, the Kroger Co. posted company net earnings of $303 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, versus $696 million, or 71 cents per diluted share, in the year-prior period.
Net earnings per diluted share include charges related to the withdrawal liability for certain multi-employer pension funds and a voluntary retirement offering. With the effect of those charges excluded, Kroger’s adjusted net earnings were $546 million, or 58 cents per diluted share. Adjusted diluted earnings per share matched a MarketBeat published analyst average estimate.
Sales were $36.29 billion versus $34.6 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Identical supermarket sales growth, without the effects of fuel price volatility included, declined 0.2% versus the previous first quarter.
Rodney McMullen, Kroger chairman and CEO, said, “We remain focused on our strategy. This will make a difference for our customers and create value for our shareholders. We are running the business with an eye toward where the customer is going. Customers tell us they want to connect with us in multiple ways with the help of friendly associates to easily provide meals to their families at prices that enable them to stretch their budgets. We are committed to providing that experience, and we will not lose on price. We are driving our strategy of lowering costs to reinvest in ways that provide the right value to our customers. We’re pleased that identical supermarket sales in the last nine weeks of the first quarter were positive, and that has continued in the second quarter to date.”