Kroger reports increase in 2nd quarter profits

CINCINNATI — Kroger said its fiscal second-quarter net income climbed 14 percent, helped by lower charges as revenue increased.

The country’s largest traditional supermarket operator also lifted the low end of its fiscal 2013 outlook for a key revenue metric.

Kroger Co., which owns Fred Meyer, QFC and other stores, earned $317 million, or 60 cents per share, for the quarter ended Aug. 17. That compared with $279 million, or 51 cents per share, in the 2012 second quarter.

The results were just above the 59 cents per share that analysts polled by FactSet expected, on average.

The latest quarter included an accounting-related charge of $13 million, compared with a $35 million charge in the prior-year period.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $22.72 billion from $21.73 billion, topping Wall Street’s estimate of $22.69 billion.

Kroger and other supermarket companies are trying to adapt to a shifting industry. Shoppers are increasingly getting groceries at big-box retailers like Target, drugstores and dollar stores that have expanded their food sections.

Kroger has worked on shortening checkout wait times, expanded its store-brand lineup and invested in making its loyalty program more sophisticated.

Looking ahead, the Cincinnati company now expects fiscal 2013 revenue at supermarkets open at least a year to increase about 3 to 3.5 percent, excluding fuel. Prior guidance was for a 2.5 to 3.5 percent rise. Wall Street was forecasting a 3.3 percent gain.

Kroger still expects full-year earnings in a range of $2.73 to $2.80 per share. Analysts predict earnings of $2.80 per share.

The stock added 65 cents to $38.32 in trading after the opening bell. Shares have traded between $22.90 and $39.98 in the past 52 weeks, and are up about 45 percent since the start of the year.

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