Kroger (KR) - Get Report is one of the largest grocery store chains in the U.S. It begins trading ex-dividend on Tuesday, the last day Kroger management will finalize its roster of shareholders to whom it will mail checks.
So it's time to buy now. In a time of uncertainty Kroger stock is, at around $37, up about 15% on the year and almost 30% in the past 52 weeks -- has been a safe haven for value-seeking investors. Its shares have outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) (up 0.5% in 2015) and the S&P 500 (SPX) (up 2.33% in 2015) as well as the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) - Get Report (3% year-to-date decline).
Kroger, headquartered in Cincinnati, will make a cash payment of 10.5 cents a share on Dec. 1 to shareholders of record Nov. 13. This marks the third straight quarter Kroger has paid the same dividend. At the current stock price the dividend yield is 1.13%, compared to the 2% yield investors can receive from the S&P 500 index.
At the same time, in the past three years and five years, respectively, Kroger stock is up 200% and 220%. During both spans, the S&P 500 has advanced 44% and 72%, respectively. Despite exceeding Wall Street's earnings estimates in seven straight quarters the stock is still cheaply valued at just 19 times earnings against a price to earnings multiple of 21 for the S&P 500 index. The stock has a consensus buy rating from analysts.
Kroger's fiscal 2015 earnings are projected to climb at 13% year over year to $1.99 a share -- four percentage points faster than the company's five-year average growth rate of 9% -- so the stock is poised to go higher. Shares are priced at around $37 or $5 lower than their average analyst 12-month target of $42, so its high target of $50 implies 35% gains.
Retail stocks aren't always sexy. But if you're looking for attractive future stock gains, owing to strong comparable same-store sales (up 5.3% last quarter), Kroger -- the fifth-largest retailer in the U.S. and No. 1 among supermarket chains -- is a buy.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.