Kroger posted higher LFL sales

Kroger posted higher LFL sales

US food retailer Kroger today (6 March) reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations.

Excluding the impact of Kroger's recent acquisition of regional US retailer Harris Teeter, as well as LIFO effects, adjusted net earnings per diluted share were $0.78 in the fourth quarter to 1 February.

The consensus forecast among analysts was for earnings per share to be $0.72.

On that basis, Kroger's net income was up from $370m a year earlier to $406m.

Including those items, Kroger's net income was down 8.7% at $718m. Operating income fell 12.3% to $718m.

Kroger, which has been reported to be mulling a bid for US rival Safeway Inc, reported a 3.7% fall in sales to $23.22bn for the quarter, which lapped a fourth quarter in 2012/13 with an extra week.

After adjusting for the extra week, total sales increased by 4.8%. Excluding fuel, total sales increased by 4.4%. Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, were up 4.3%

Over the year as a whole, Kroger's net income reached $1.52bn, up from $1.5bn. Adjusted earnings per diluted share were $2.85.

Operating profit dipped from $2.76bn to $2.73bn.

Sales were up 1.8% at $98.38bn. Identical-supermarket sales were up 3.6%, excluding fuel.

Kroger expects adjusted earnings per diluted share to grow 10-14% in part thanks to "accretion" from the Harris Teeter deal.

It forecast a 2.5-3.5% increase in identical supermarket sales, excluding fuel, but including the contribution from the Harris Teeter business. "This range takes into account the expectation of low inflation during the year," Kroger said.

Shares in Kroger were up 0.3% at $43.81 at 12:54 ET.