National grocery store chain Kroger (NYSE:KR), which operates self-named stores as well as Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and QFC to name a few others, walked up and down the aisle with its head held high this morning after reporting its third-quarter earnings results before the bell.
For the quarter, Kroger delivered a 3.2% increase in revenue to $22.5 billion compared to the $21.8 billion reported in the year-ago period. The two takeaway numbers on the revenue side of the equation, though, are its identical supermarket sales growth of 3.5%, which excludes stores opened less than a year and those that were closed recently and gives us a better gauge of how its business is performing, and its revenue growth excluding fuel of 4.7%. Both figures would signal that Kroger's pricing power remains strong, which is important in an industry with razor-thin margins.
Kroger's quarterly GAAP EPS profit totaled $0.57 given a $0.04 tax benefit, but was actually down nearly 6% from last year. However, adjusted EPS, which excludes these one-time charges and gains, came in at $0.53, which was in-line with Wall Street's expectations and 15% higher than the year-ago period. Margins for the quarter dipped ever-so-slightly by 25 basis points despite the company's best efforts to cut operating costs as it tries to remain competitive with its peers.
Looking ahead, Kroger forecast fourth-quarter identical supermarket sales growth of 3% to 3.5%, while maintaining its full-year EPS guidance of $2.73-$2.80. As of this morning, Wall Street's consensus expectation called for $2.80 in EPS, according to Yahoo! Finance.
Shares were down just shy of 4% in mid-afternoon trading.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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