Will These Q3 Earnings Put Kroger Back on Track?

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Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) reported its fiscal third-quarter financial results before the opening bell Thursday. The grocery chain said that it had $0.47 in earnings per share (EPS) and $28.0 billion in revenue, while consensus estimates had called for $0.49 in EPS and $28.18 billion in revenue. The same period of last year reportedly had $0.48 in EPS and $27.67 billion in revenue.

During the most recent quarter, identical sales without fuel grew 2.5% year over year and digital sales grew 21%.

The company expanded its footprint to 1,915 pickup locations and 2,326 delivery locations, covering over 96% of Kroger households.

Looking ahead to the 2020 fiscal full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $2.15 to $2.25, with identical sales increasing in the range of 2.00% to 2.25%. Consensus estimates are calling for $2.20 in EPS and $122.55 billion in revenue for the year.

Consistent with its financial strategy, Kroger reduced net total debt by $1.5 billion over the past four quarters. Kroger’s net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio is 2.50, compared to 2.72 a year ago. The company’s net total debt to adjusted EBITDA ratio target range is 2.30 to 2.50.

Rodney McMullen, board chair and CEO, commented:

Kroger’s customer obsession and focus on operational excellence continued to generate positive results in the third quarter. Identical sales were the strongest since we started Restock Kroger and gross margin rate, excluding fuel and pharmacy, improved slightly in the quarter. At the same time, we continued to reduce costs as a percentage of sales.

Shares of Kroger traded down about 2% to $27.06 Thursday morning, in a 52-week range of $20.70 to $30.40. The consensus price target is $27.62.

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