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CINCINNATI - As a vote of confidence, the board of The Kroger Co. here has given the green light for another $1 billion stock repurchase, which will replace a previous $1 billion repurchase program that had $6 million remaining.
"The new share repurchase authorization reflects our confidence in the company's Customer First strategic plan, and our belief that Kroger shares represent an attractive investment opportunity," said Kroger chairman and c.e.o. David Dillon.
The nation's top-ranked grocer, which has repurchased $4.8 billion in stock since January 2000, said it plans to repurchase shares in the current program using "free cash flow," and to pay dividends. Since January 2000, Kroger has returned $4.8 billion in stock repurchases and $290 million in dividends to shareholders.
The grocery chain reiterated its commitment to maintaining a leverage ratio that supports a solid investment grade rating. From January 2000 through the end of the third quarter in fiscal 2007, Kroger reduced total debt by $1.5 billion.
Kroger said it believes maintaining a solid investment grade rating provides the best cost of capital and the flexibility to execute its growth strategy in a competitive and consolidating industry.
Kroger operates 2,487 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners.