Kroger Sprints Past Estimates, Guides Higher Too

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The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results before markets opened this morning.

The grocery chain reported quarterly adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.88 on revenues of $24.15 billion. In the same period a year ago, Kroger reported EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $21.41 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.70 and $24 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Kroger reported EPS of $2.63 on revenues of $96.75 billion. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $2.46 on revenues of $96.37 billion.

Backing out income for the extra week in the quarter, Kroger’s quarterly diluted EPS totaled $0.77 and full-year EPS totaled $2.52.

The company’s CEO said:

Kroger’s unique value offering of better service, great products and an enjoyable shopping experience with low prices continues to resonate with a full range of customers. The result is an industry-leading 37 consecutive quarters of positive identical sales growth.

The company guided 2013 diluted EPS at $2.71 to $2.79. The EPS estimate is higher than the consensus estimate of $2.64. Kroger also expects same-store sales growth in the range of 2.5% to 3.5%.

Kroger’s shares are up more than 25% in the past 12 months, compared with a share price rise of around 14% for Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) and share price decline of about 36% at Supervalu Inc. (NYSE: SVU).

Kroger’s shares were up nearly 3% in the first few minutes of trading this morning, at $30.25, a new 52-week high. The prior 52-week range was $20.98 to $29.76. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $28.30 before today’s results were announced.

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