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Acquisitions boost supermarket chain Kroger's profit, forecast

11/09/2014 - 14:59

(Reuters) - Kroger Co , the biggest U.S. supermarket operator, raised its full-year profit forecast and reported a better-than-expected 9 percent rise in quarterly profit, helped by the acquisition of grocer Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.

Shares of KROGER (KR.NY) which owns the Ralphs, Smith's and Food 4 Less grocery chains and supplement seller Vitacost.com, rose as much as 1.3 percent to $52.57 in early trading.

Kroger completed the $2.5 billion acquisition of North Carolina-based Harris Teeter on Jan. 29, adding more than 200 supermarkets, mostly in the U.S. southeast.

Its roughly $280 million acquisition of online vitamin and supplements seller Vitacost.com closed on Aug. 18.

Kroger raised its adjusted earnings forecast for the year ending January to $3.22-$3.28 per share from $3.19-$3.27.

Analysts on average were expecting full-year profit of $3.28 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company also raised its forecast for same-store sales, excluding fuel, to 3.50-4.25 percent from 3-4 percent at supermarkets open without expansion or relocation for five quarters.

Kroger, whose rivals include Wal-Mart Stores Inc , Safeway Inc and Whole Foods Market Inc , is seen as one of the top performers in the hyper-competitive U.S. supermarket industry.

Up to Wednesday's close, Kroger's shares had jumped 31.2 percent this year, outperforming the S&P 500 Food Retail Index <.SPLRCRETF>, which rose 1.4 percent.

Net income attributable to Kroger rose to $347 million, or 70 cents per share, in the second quarter ended Aug. 16 from $317 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total sales rose 12 percent to $25.3 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 69 cents per share and sales of $24.92 billion.

Same-store sales, excluding fuel, were up 4.8 percent, higher than the 4.2 percent increase analysts polled by Consensus Metrix had expected.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Kirti Pandey)


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