As it pursues a range of ventures, including its partnership with the Ocado online grocery business, Kroger posted identical store sales gains and higher adjusted earnings for the full year and fourth quarter.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $327 million, or 40 cents per diluted share, versus $259 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for one-time items including store closings and the bankruptcy of the affiliated Lucky’s Market chain, earnings per share came in at 57 cents versus 48 cents in the year-prior period.
Identical store sales, excluding fuel, were up 2% in the period year over year. Net sales were $28.89 billion as compared to $28.29 billion in the year-before quarter. Operating profit was $537 million versus $391 million in the year-previous period.
For the full year, net earnings were $1.66 billion, or $2.04 per diluted share, versus $3.11 billion, or $3.76 per diluted share, in the year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $2.19 billion versus $2.11 billion in the year prior.
Identical store sales, excluding fuel, gained 2% year over year. Net sales were $122.29 billion as compared to $121.85 billion in the year before. Operating profit was $2.25 billion versus $2.61 billion in the year previous.
Rodney McMullen, Kroger chairman and CEO, said, “We are pleased with our 2019 results and improving trends in our supermarket business. We delivered on our commitments for ID sales without fuel, adjusted FIFO operating profit, and cost savings in addition to generating over $100 million of incremental operating profit through alternative profit streams in 2019. We also delivered strong adjusted free cash flow during the year, consistent with the total shareholder return model outlined at our Investor Day. More importantly, the way that we delivered the year is consistent with our long-term financial model and sets us up to connect with customers in a deeper way. Restock Kroger is the right strategic framework to position the company for sustainable growth in the future, continue to improve the core business, and deliver strong total shareholder return. This transformational foundation supports our competitive moats today— fresh, our brands and personalization— as well as building a seamless ecosystem of the future.”