Kroger Boosts Third Quarter Earnings

For the third quarter, The Kroger Co. reported net earnings of $428 million, or 43 cents per diluted share, versus $362 million, or 36 cents per diluted share, in the year-prior period. Identical supermarket sales growth, without fuel, was 5.4% in the third quarter year over year.

Earnings per diluted share surpassed a Zacks Investment Research analyst average estimate of 39 cents.

With fuel impacting results, total sales increased 0.4% to $25.1 billion in the third quarter compared to $25 billion for the same period last year. Without the fuel effect excluded, total sales increased 5.5% in the third quarter over the 2014 period, the company related.

Kroger pointed out that it recorded a $9 million LIFO charge during the third quarter compared to an $85 million LIFO charge in the same quarter last year.

In a conference call, Kroger CEO, Rodney McMullen, noted that consumers remain split between those who have become more comfortable spending and those who are concerned about personal finance prospects. Consumers want quality and value in their purchases, McMullen said, so the company is providing it on the high end with gourmet and other upscale items while simultaneously offering superior, often private label opening pricepoint items in segments where certain consumers have particular preferences, such as for natural foods.

The company also recently announced that it was acquiring the Midwest supermarket chain Roundy’s in a deal valued at $800 million.

Kroger operates 2,620 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,360 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.