Are Kroger Earnings Really to Blame?

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Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) released its most recent quarterly results on Thursday before the markets opened. Investors reacted, not necessarily to earnings, by sending Kroger’s shares lower. Chief Financial Officer John Schlotman believes that recent pressure against firms like Dollar Tree have played into Kroger’s shares sliding. This was definitely true on Wednesday.

As for Kroger’s earnings, the grocery store giant said that it had $0.63 in earnings per share (EPS) on $31.0 billion in revenue. That compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.63 in EPS and revenue $30.83 billion. The fiscal fourth-quarter of last year reportedly had EPS of $0.53 and $27.61 billion in revenue.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has enabled the company to accelerate investments in Restock Kroger, which is a way of fighting back against the likes of Amazon and Walmart through a digital channel. Restock Kroger achieved $16.7 billion in annual natural and organic sales, including $2 billion in Simple Truth sales for the fourth quarter. Restock Kroger also opened its 1,000th ClickList store in this period.

During the fourth quarter, Kroger reported identical supermarket sales, without fuel, of 1.5%. Total sales, excluding fuel and the 53rd week, increased 2.7% in the fourth quarter over the same period of last year.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, Kroger expects to see identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, to range from 1.5% to 2.0% and EPS to range from $1.95 to $2.15. The consensus estimates call for $2.16 in EPS on $123.22 billion in revenue for the fiscal year.

Rodney McMullen, board chair and chief executive, commented:

We launched Restock Kroger in the fall of 2017 and finished the year with positive momentum in our sales and overall business. Customers are letting us know that they see, feel and appreciate our efforts to redefine the customer experience – and they are rewarding us with growing loyalty. This is the cycle that creates long-term value for shareholders.

Shares of Kroger closed Wednesday down over 6% at $26.23, with a consensus analyst price target of $29.23 and a 52-week trading range of $19.69 to $31.45. Following the announcement, the stock was down about 5% at $24.90 in early trading indications Thursday.