How Kroger Is Returning Capital to Investors

Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) made a few strong moves during Thursday’s trading session, and it has found investors happy with these decisions. The board of directors had sweeping approvals for an increased dividend yield, a two-for-one stock split and a new share repurchase program.

First of all, the board approved a two-for-one stock split. The split will occur on or about July 13 for shareholders of record at the close of July 6. Based on the net number of shares outstanding in late May, the stock split will increase the number of common shares outstanding to 962 million from roughly 481 million. This will be the fifth stock split in the history of the company.

Kroger increased its quarterly dividend to $0.21 per share on a pre-split basis, or 13.5%. Effectively, after the split, the dividend will be halved to $0.105 per share. Since 2006, Kroger has delivered double-digit compound growth in its dividend, and it expects to continue to do so.

Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, commented on the board’s decision:

Today’s actions reflect our Board of Directors’ confidence in Kroger’s long-term performance and ability to deliver growth consistently to our investors. The stock split will increase the accessibility of our shares and liquidity in the trading of our shares. We are especially excited that the stock split will make Kroger’s common shares more accessible to all of our associates.

The board also approved a $500 million share repurchase program, which will replace the prior authorization. The company noted that it does not expect to make any purchases under this plan for the remainder of 2015.

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McMullen said:

Kroger’s strong financial position has allowed the company to return approximately $11.7 billion to shareholders through share repurchases since January 2000. We remain committed to delivering value to shareholders. In fact, over the last four quarters, the company has returned more than $1.1 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends combined.

Shares of Kroger were up 1% at $73.67 on Thursday afternoon. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $80.89 and a 52-week trading range of $48.58 to $77.74.