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article imageKroger fourth-quarter adjusted earnings beat estimates

By Karen Graham     Mar 5, 2020 in Business
Kroger posted solid earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, with profits that slightly beat estimates - showing great resilience in the face of fierce competition from Walmart Inc. and Inc.
Kroger profits totaled $327 million, or $0.40 per share. This compares with $259 million, or $0.32 per share, in last year's fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter comparable sales, excluding fuel - a key metric - rose 2.0 percent, in line with analysts’ expectations.
The adjustments gave Kroger a profit of $462 million and adjusted earnings of 57 cents a share that surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a penny and increased 18.8% from the prior-year quarter.
While beating the poor showing by other big retailers who posted lackluster sales over the holiday period, Kroger's sales were fueled by private-label foods and by expanded online pickup and delivery options. Kroger's digital sales rose 22 percent, up slightly from the third quarter’s pace.
It also boosted gross margins in the quarter thanks to improvements in sourcing goods, which offset headwinds from its pharmacy business.
The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company continues to envision fiscal 2020 earnings between $2.30 and $2.40 per share, which indicates an increase from adjusted earnings of $2.19 reported in fiscal 2019, even though Kroger plans to close 35 of its almost 2,800 stores in 2020.
In Kroger's conference call at 10:00 AM ET today, Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said: "We are pleased with our 2019 results and improving trends in our supermarket business. We delivered on our commitments for ID sales without fuel, adjusted FIFO operating profit, and cost savings in addition to generating over $100 million of incremental operating profit through alternative profit streams in 2019."
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