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Kroger Raises Outlook as Earnings Rise on Lower Costs

Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) reported second-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Friday morning. The grocery chain reported quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.44 on revenues of $25.54 billion. In the same period a year ago, Kroger reported EPS of $0.35 on revenue of $25.31 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.40 and $25.5 billion in revenue.

Excluding fuel sales, revenues rose 5.7% year over year, and operating expenses declined by 35 basis points as a percentage of sales.

Kroger raised its fiscal year EPS guidance from a range of $1.90 to $1.95 to a new range of $1.92 to $1.98. The company also raised its outlook for same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, from a previous range of 3.5% to 4.5% to a new range of 4% to 5% for the full fiscal year. The consensus EPS estimate is currently $1.96.

The company’s CEO, Rodney McMullen, said:

We are investing to grow our business for the future while delivering on our promises today. For example, our stores are hiring to fill 20,000 new, permanent jobs and we are expanding our digital and ecommerce offerings. Our confidence in Kroger has never been stronger.

Consensus estimates for the third quarter call for EPS of $0.38 on revenues of $25.27 billion.

During the second quarter, the company repurchased 1.1 million shares at a cost of $43 million.

Kroger’s shares traded up 4.9% late Friday morning, at $37.13 in a 52-week range of $25.42 to $39.43. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $41.08 before the results were announced.

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By Paul Ausick