CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. posted better than expected results in its third-quarter earnings report Thursday, driving the company’s share price toward new all-time highs.
Kroger reported net earnings of $428 million on revenue of $25.08 billion for the three months ending Nov. 7.
Earnings per share of 43 cents was comfortably above the 39 cents predicted by analysts. Revenue fell $140 million short of analyst expectations, but analysts include fuel sales in their estimates. Kroger does not. Excluding fuel, Kroger grew total sales by 5.5 percent compared to last year.
Kroger increased its profit outlook for the year and pleased investors with a 5.4 percent growth rate in identical store sales. It’s the 48th consecutive quarter of same-store sales growth for Kroger and a sign that a recent spate of acquisitions is not impacting the company’s ability to grow.
“Our relentless focus on customers is the key to sustainable shareholder returns,” said Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen in a press release. “We continue to implement our growth plan and expect to exceed our long-term net earnings per diluted share growth rate for fiscal 2015.”
Kroger’s stock price surged above $39.43 per share in pre-market trading, well above its previous all-time high of $39.40 in August. In mid-morning trades, Kroger stock rose to $39.50, up 3.5 percent from Wednesday's close.