Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) Sees Large Decline in Short Interest

Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) was the target of a large decline in short interest in the month of July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 42,182,800 shares, a decline of 7.2% from the June 30th total of 45,470,100 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 10,000,000 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 4.2 days. Currently, 5.3% of the shares of the company are sold short.

In other Kroger news, insider Stephen M. Mckinney sold 15,600 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $22.05, for a total transaction of $343,980.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 168,070 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $3,705,943.50. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Ronald Sargent bought 5,000 shares of Kroger stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 2nd. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $21.49 per share, with a total value of $107,450.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now directly owns 94,660 shares in the company, valued at $2,034,243.40. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 43,600 shares of company stock valued at $955,450 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 1.34% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. LSV Asset Management boosted its stake in shares of Kroger by 1.8% in the 1st quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 20,412,468 shares of the company’s stock valued at $502,146,000 after purchasing an additional 361,800 shares during the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in shares of Kroger by 13.5% in the 1st quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 13,586,811 shares of the company’s stock valued at $334,238,000 after acquiring an additional 1,620,668 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Kroger by 7.9% in the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 12,008,444 shares of the company’s stock valued at $329,733,000 after acquiring an additional 874,376 shares during the period. Northern Trust Corp raised its position in shares of Kroger by 1.1% in the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 10,715,151 shares of the company’s stock valued at $232,626,000 after acquiring an additional 114,919 shares during the period. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Kroger by 30.2% in the 2nd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 10,689,834 shares of the company’s stock valued at $232,077,000 after acquiring an additional 2,477,585 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 79.68% of the company’s stock.

KR stock traded up $0.12 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $22.23. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 9,662,500 shares, compared to its average volume of 8,736,063. The company has a quick ratio of 0.25, a current ratio of 0.75 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.16. The company has a market capitalization of $17.77 billion, a PE ratio of 10.54, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 0.62. Kroger has a 12 month low of $20.70 and a 12 month high of $32.74. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $21.90 and a two-hundred day moving average price of $24.53.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, June 20th. The company reported $0.72 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.71 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $37.25 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $37.27 billion. Kroger had a net margin of 1.54% and a return on equity of 21.79%. Kroger’s quarterly revenue was down 1.2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.73 EPS. Sell-side analysts expect that Kroger will post 2.17 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Sunday, September 1st. Stockholders of record on Thursday, August 15th will be paid a $0.16 dividend. This is a boost from Kroger’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, August 14th. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.88%. Kroger’s dividend payout ratio is currently 26.54%.

A number of research firms have commented on KR. Guggenheim dropped their price target on shares of Kroger from $31.00 to $26.00 in a research report on Monday, June 24th. BMO Capital Markets dropped their price target on shares of Kroger to $24.00 and set a “market perform” rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, June 18th. TheStreet downgraded shares of Kroger from a “b-” rating to a “c+” rating in a report on Wednesday, June 5th. Telsey Advisory Group reiterated a “market perform” rating and issued a $27.00 target price (down from $29.00) on shares of Kroger in a report on Friday, June 21st. Finally, Bank of America dropped their target price on shares of Kroger from $37.00 to $30.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a report on Wednesday, May 29th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $28.61.

About Kroger

The Kroger Co operates as a retailer in the United States. The company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, marketplace stores, and price impact warehouse stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; and multi-department stores provide apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, and toys.

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