Kroger says winter weather helped lift earnings

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Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 12:00 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger said its ability to keep its supermarkets open and well-stocked as customers rushed to hoard groceries ahead of winter storms helped boost its results in the fourth quarter.

The nation's largest supermarket operator on Thursday said a key sales figure climbed for the period and issued a better-than-expected profit for the year ahead. The company, which owns Baker's Supermarkets in Omaha and operates Ralphs, Fry's, Food 4 Less and other chains, noted that it sped up deliveries several days ahead of storms to ensure shelves would be replenished.

“In some cases, our associates even welcomed stranded travelers in extreme freezing conditions to spend the night in one of our stores,” CEO Rodney McMullen said during a call with analysts, referencing instances where stores in Atlanta took in people.

That helps cultivate trust among customers that Kroger stores will be open when they're most needed, McMullen said.

The positive benefit of the winter weather is in contrast to many other companies that have cited the conditions for weaker results. At Kroger, executives noted that one of the benefits is that people don't stick to shopping lists when stocking up before storms.

Kroger has also fared better than its peers in adapting to intensifying competition. Kroger has adapted its store formats, developing both larger and smaller locations to compete in different segments of the market.

For the period ending Feb. 1, Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. said sales at established locations rose 4.3 percent, excluding fuel. For the quarter, Kroger earned $422 million, or 81 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, it earned 78 cents per share, topping the 72 cents per share Wall Street expected.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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