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Kroger Shares Rise on Q3 Results, Outlook (KR)

Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), U.S’s largest traditional supermarket chain, reported its third-quarter financial results. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company also raised its earnings outlook for the full year, sending shares sharply higher in trading on Thursday.

For the quarter ended November 3, 2012, KR’s comparable store sales rose 3.2%. The company’s revenue for the quarter climbed 6% to $21.81 billion.

KR reported third-quarter earnings of $316.5 million, or $0.60 per share, compared to $195.9 million, or $0.33 per share reported for the same period in the previous year. Excluding one-time items, KR reported earnings of $0.46 per share for the third quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting KR to report earnings of $0.43 per share and revenue of $21.55 billion.

David B. Dillon, Chairman and CEO of Kroger, said that the company achieved its growth objective for the quarter, including positive identical supermarket sales, operating profit growth and outstanding tonnage growth. Dillon further said that the third quarter illustrates that the strength of the company’s core business positions it to accelerate its earnings per share growth.

Following the strong third-quarter results, KR raised its earnings guidance for the full year. The company now expects full-year earnings to be between $2.44 per share and $2.46 per share, compared to previous guidance range of $2.35 per share to $2.42 per share. The company expects comparable store sales growth of 3% to 3.5% in the fourth quarter.

Dillon said that KR’s proven Customer 1st Strategy continues to increase customer loyalty, identical supermarket sales and market share and with that foundation firmly in place, the company is focused on deploying capital to further accelerate growth and improve ROIC.

At last check on Thursday, KR shares were up nearly 5% to $26.31 on above average volume of 11.29 million. The stock hit a 52-week high of $26.40 on Thursday.

Year-to-date, KR shares have gained more than 8%.



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