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Kroger Stock Slumps After Q2 Earnings Beat, Profit Outlook Boost Linked to COVID Shopping

"Customers are eating more food at home because it is more affordable, convenient, and healthier than other options," said CEO Rodney McMullen.

Kroger Co.  (KR) - Get Kroger Co. (KR) Report posted stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings Friday, and boosted it full-year profit outlook, as shoppers begin to stockpile groceries amid the ongoing rise in Delta variant coronavirus infections.  

Kroger said adjusted earnings for the three months ending on July 31, the group's fiscal second quarter, were pegged at 80 cents per share, up 9.5% from the same period last year and firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 64 cents per share. Group revenues, Kroger said, rose 4% to $31.7 billion, again topping analysts' estimates of a $30.653 billion tally.

Digital sales, Kroger said, rose 114% from 2019, and although same-store fell by 0.6%, that tally beat the Refinitv forecast of a 1.65% decline but slowed from the first quarter pace, when compared to 2019 levels.

Looking into the final half of its financial year, Kroger said it sees adjusted earnings in the range of $3.25 to $3.35 per share, up from a prior forecast of $2.95 to $3.10 per share.

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"Our strategic focus on leading with fresh and accelerating with digital continues to build momentum across our business. Kroger's seamless ecosystem is working," said CEO Rodney McMullen. "This was evident during the quarter as we saw customers seamlessly shift between channels, and we continued to see strong digital engagement. Customers are eating more food at home because it is more affordable, convenient, and healthier than other options."

"Our associates continue to support our customers and our communities through the pandemic by delivering a full, fresh, and friendly experience every day" he added. "We are leveraging technology, innovation, and our competitive moats to deliver against the initiatives outlined at our 2021 investor day, and we remain confident in our ability to deliver total shareholder returns of 8% to 11% over time."

Kroger shares were marked 8.75% lower in late-morning trading following the earnings release to change hands at $42.11 each, a move that would still leave the stock with a year-to-date gain of around 34%.