What happened

Shares of Kroger (NYSE:KR) took a big hit on Thursday, falling as much as 14%. As of 10:26 a.m. EST, the stock was down 12.3%.

Shares are down following the grocery retailer's fourth-quarter earnings release, which included a top-line miss and worse-than-expected earnings per share.

A man holding a bag of lettuce in a grocery store

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Kroger reported fourth-quarter net sales of $28.1 billion, down 9.5% year over year. But when excluding sales from fuel, an extra week in the fourth quarter of 2017, the company's divestiture of its convenience store unit, and the impact of Kroger's merger with Home Chef, sales were up 1.6% year over year. The quarter's sales, however, were shy of analysts' average forecast for $28.4 billion. 

Adjusted earnings per share for the period were $0.48, down from $0.54 in the year-ago quarter. Management noted that 2018 was "an investment year" for the company as it attempts to evolve in a rapidly changing environment -- particularly when it comes to digital sales.

Now what

In 2019, Kroger is targeting same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, in the range of 2% to 2.25%. In addition, the company said it expects EPS for the year to be between $2.15 and $2.19, below analysts' consensus estimate for $2.25.