Kroger Co (KR) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Tuesday, May 9th.

According to Zacks, “Stiff competition, food price deflation, an aggressive promotional environment and waning store traffic are making things tough for Kroger that has underperformed the industry in the past six months. A clear reflection of the same was visible in fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 results, wherein bottom line declined year over year, despite an increase in the top line fueled by recent buyouts. Kroger envisions first-quarter earnings in the band of $0.55 to $0.59 per share down from the year-ago quarter. However, management anticipates earnings to improve in the subsequent quarters. A dominant position among the nation’s largest grocery retailers enables Kroger to sustain sales growth, expand store base and boost market share. Kroger has also kept its long term earnings per share growth rate target of 8% to 11% unchanged and expects it to attain on the back of customer 1st strategy, effective cost management and share repurchase activities. “

Several other equities analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. Royal Bank of Canada raised shares of Kroger from a sector perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $37.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Thursday, March 23rd. BMO Capital Markets set a $32.00 price target on shares of Kroger and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Tuesday, April 18th. Deutsche Bank AG set a $35.00 price target on shares of Kroger and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Sunday, March 5th. Goldman Sachs Group Inc lowered shares of Kroger from a conviction-buy rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, March 3rd. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a hold rating and issued a $30.00 price objective on shares of Kroger in a research note on Friday, March 3rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and twelve have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Kroger has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $36.05.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) traded up 0.258% on Tuesday, hitting $29.165. The stock had a trading volume of 3,395,316 shares. Kroger has a 1-year low of $28.29 and a 1-year high of $37.97. The firm has a market cap of $26.66 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.227 and a beta of 0.78. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $29.56 and its 200-day moving average price is $31.91.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last released its earnings results on Thursday, March 2nd. The company reported $0.53 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.52 by $0.01. Kroger had a return on equity of 31.48% and a net margin of 1.77%. The firm had revenue of $27.61 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $27.31 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $0.57 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts predict that Kroger will post $2.19 earnings per share for the current year.

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The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, June 1st. Investors of record on Monday, May 15th will be paid a dividend of $0.12 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, May 11th. This represents a $0.48 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.65%. Kroger’s payout ratio is 23.08%.

In other news, Director Ronald Sargent sold 4,465 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, March 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $29.35, for a total value of $131,047.75. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 81,240 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,384,394. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, VP Oflen Mary Elizabeth Van sold 8,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, April 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $30.04, for a total transaction of $240,320.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now owns 65,564 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,969,542.56. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 85,604 shares of company stock valued at $2,559,544 over the last ninety days. 0.85% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Advantage Investment Management LLC purchased a new stake in Kroger during the fourth quarter valued at about $110,000. Signature Estate & Investment Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of Kroger during the first quarter worth $102,000. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC raised its stake in shares of Kroger by 4.1% in the first quarter. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC now owns 4,323 shares of the company’s stock worth $125,000 after buying an additional 171 shares during the last quarter. Kernodle & Katon Asset Management Group LLC bought a new stake in shares of Kroger during the third quarter worth $135,000. Finally, Baldwin Brothers Inc. MA raised its stake in shares of Kroger by 23.4% in the first quarter. Baldwin Brothers Inc. MA now owns 5,000 shares of the company’s stock worth $147,000 after buying an additional 948 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 77.10% of the company’s stock.

About Kroger

The Kroger Co (Kroger) manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The Company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, jewelry stores and convenience stores throughout the United States. As of January 28, 2017, it had operated approximately 4,000 owned or leased supermarkets, convenience stores, fine jewelry stores, distribution warehouses and food production plants through divisions, subsidiaries or affiliates.

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