US grocery retailer Kroger has reported a fourth-quarter net loss, as results were affected by the recently resolved labour dispute in Southern California and a work stoppage in West Virginia.

The company posted a net loss of US$337.4m, or 45 cents per share, for the fourth quarter to 31 January, compared to net earnings of $381.0m, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

The company estimated that the labour dispute in Southern California, together with a work stoppage in West Virginia that ended in mid-December, reduced earnings by $156.4m after tax during the quarter. Kroger also incurred a goodwill impairment charge of $444.2m after tax related to its Smith's division, and a charge of $75.0m after tax for an asset writedown related to 74 under-performing stores.

Total sales for quarter increased 4.5% to $13.0bn, including stores affected by the labour disputes. On this basis, identical food-store sales, excluding fuel, increased 1.2%. Excluding stores affected by labour disputes, identical food-store sales, excluding fuel, increased 1.3%.

"We are pleased with Kroger's fourth-quarter sales. This represents continued sequential improvement in both total and identical food-store sales," said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chief executive officer.

"In addition, we are happy to have a new contract in place in southern California and to have Ralphs team members back at work serving our customers. Ralphs has a comprehensive plan in place to build its business and will receive our full support."