Why Kroger Is Getting Dragged for Q4 Results

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Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) released its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. The grocery chain said that it had $0.48 in earnings per share (EPS) and $28.1 billion in revenue, which compares with consensus estimates of $0.52 in EPS and $28.38 billion in revenue. In the same period of last year, the specialty retailer said it had EPS of $0.54 on $31.03 billion in revenue.

During the most recent quarter, total sales decreased 9.5% year over year. Excluding fuel, the 53rd week in fiscal 2017, the convenience store business unit divestiture and the merger with Home Chef, total sales increased 1.6% year over year.

One of the main highlights Kroger pointed to this quarter was that it grew digital sales by 58% year over year, achieving over $1 billion in cost savings. The firm also raised its dividend for the 12th consecutive year, an increase of 12%.

Looking ahead to the 2019 full year, the company expects to see identical sales growth, excluding fuel, to range from 2.0% to 2.25%, and for EPS to come in at $2.15 to $2.25. Consensus estimates call for $2.26 in EPS and $123.79 billion in revenue for the year.

Rodney McMullen, board chair and chief executive, commented:

Kroger solidly delivered on what we set out to do in 2018, which was an investment year that laid the groundwork for us to achieve our 2020 Restock Kroger targets including financials. We reached our FIFO operating profit goal and finished the year with sales and business momentum. We have a clear path to achieve $400 million in incremental FIFO operating profit growth and $6.5 billion in cumulative Restock cash flow by the end of 2020.

Shares of Kroger last closed at $28.44, in a 52-week range of $22.85 to $32.74. The consensus price target is $30.57. Following the announcement, the stock was down 10% at $25.56 in early trading indications Thursday.

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