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    Total Q3 Sales Up 3.1% at Kroger

    Net earnings increased, same-store sales rise 2.4% without fuel
     

    The Kroger Co. reported its total sales, including fuel, increased 5.9 percent to $18.7 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2010, compared with $17.7 billion for the same period last year.

    Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 3.1 percent in the third quarter, which ended Nov. 6, over the same period last year. Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, increased 2.4 percent in the third quarter over the same period last year. Net earnings for the third quarter of fiscal 2010 totaled $202.2 million, or 32 cents per diluted share.

    “Kroger’s customers today are looking for lower prices and a great shopping experience, and our Customer 1st strategy delivers all that and more,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “Our team increased identical supermarket sales, earnings and earnings per share in the third quarter while controlling expenses to keep prices low for our customers. These results show Kroger’s strategy is working and that our core grocery business is strong and resilient.”

    Capital investment, excluding acquisitions and purchases of leased facilities, totaled $484 million for the third quarter, compared with $552.1 million for the same period last year.

    For the first three quarters of fiscal 2010, total sales were $62.3 billion, compared with $58.2 billion for the same period last year. Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 3.2 percent over the prior year. For the same period, identical supermarket sales, excluding fuel, increased 2.5 percent. Net earnings for the first three quarters of fiscal 2010 were $837.5 million, or $1.30 per diluted share. Kroger reported a net loss of $185.4 million for the first three quarters of fiscal 2009, or $0.29 per diluted share.

    Kroger expects identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, to range between 2.5 percent and 3 percent. The company expects to invest up to $ billion in capital projects during the fiscal year.

    “Our enthusiastic Kroger team shines during the holiday season, and we expect a solid end to our fiscal year,” Dillon said. “We remain focused on delivering sustainable earnings growth today for our shareholders while investing for the future. In addition, Kroger’s stock buyback program, debt reduction, and recent dividend increase in September demonstrate our ongoing commitment to creating value.”

    Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,461 supermarkets and multidepartment stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.
     

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