Should Kroger Get More Credit for Its Q3?

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Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) reported its fiscal third-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. The grocery chain said that it had $0.48 in earnings per share (EPS) and $27.67 billion in revenue, which compares with consensus estimates of $0.43 in EPS and $27.71 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, Kroger said it had EPS of $0.44 on revenue of $27.75 billion.

Kroger reported identical sales growth, without fuel, of 1.6% for the third quarter of 2018. Excluding fuel, the convenience store business unit divestiture and the merger with Home Chef, total sales increased 1.7% in the third quarter over the same period last year. The company also reported digital sales growth over 60%.

Looking ahead to the 2018 fiscal full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $2.00 to $2.15. It also reconfirmed its identical sales guidance, excluding fuel, for the remainder of the year. Kroger expects second-half results to be similar to first-half results.

Consensus estimates for the full fiscal year call for $2.12 in EPS and $122.03 billion in revenue.

Rodney McMullen, board chair and chief executive, commented:

Kroger is transforming our business model. We’re moving from a traditional grocer to a growth company with both a strong customer ecosystem that offers anything, anytime, anywhere, and asset-light, high-margin alternative partnerships and services. Restock Kroger is the blueprint for this transformation.

We are strengthening the Kroger ecosystem by reducing costs and investing the savings in our associates, technology, and price to grow units, traffic and share. Leveraging our store, logistics and data assets in turn creates incremental new profit streams, which then further redefines the customer experience. In this way, our new growth model will be a virtuous cycle.

Shares of Kroger closed Tuesday at $28.64, with a consensus analyst price target of $30.96 and a 52-week trading range of $22.85 to $32.74. Following the announcement, the stock was down 2% at $27.99 in early trading indications Thursday.