Kroger (NYSE: KR) announced on Tuesday its forecast for 2020, which was ahead of analysts’ estimates. Following the announcement, Kroger shares rose by as much as 11% during late afternoon trading hours.
The Company’s announcement was updating investors on how its Restock Kroger framework is repositioning the company in order to create value for shareholders, customers, and associates.
In the press release, Kroger also announced that the company’s Board of Directors has approved a USD 1 Billion share repurchase program, replacing the existing authorization that has approximately USD 546 Million remaining.
"As promised on our second quarter earnings call, Kroger is using our Investor Conference to provide an update on our future expectations to create value for shareholders, including early detailed guidance for 2020," said Gary Millerchip, Kroger's Chief Financial Officer. "Kroger's value creation model is strong and durable. We are pleased to see identical store sales momentum is building and we expect this trend to continue into 2020 and beyond. We are also delivering adjusted earnings per diluted share growth for our shareholders through the Restock Kroger timeframe, supported by a disciplined approach to returning cash to investors."
Kroger reaffirmed its 2019 guidance. For 2019, Kroger is expecting adjusted earnings between USD 2.15 per share to USD 2.25 per share. Moreover, the Company is expecting operating profit in the range of USD 2.9 Billion to USD 3.0 Billion.
As for fiscal 2020, Kroger is expecting identical sales to grow greater than 2.25%. Adjusted earnings is expected to fall between USD 2.30 per share to USD 2.40 per share. Refinitiv analysts expected sales growth of 1.99% on earnings of USD 2.30 per share.
Beyond 2020, Kroger is expecting to return between 8% and 11% to shareholders. The return will be driven by a 3% to 5% growth from improved earnings and growth in the Company’s free cash flow payout rate through a combination of share repurchases and dividends.
"We are confident that Restock Kroger is the right strategic framework for business growth in 2019 and 2020, and to position Kroger for long-term growth in the future," said McMullen. "We believe that the food industry is special and big enough for different models to coexist – and Kroger's model will be one of them because, at Kroger, we are uniquely good at food. Kroger is food first and we believe that no matter who you are, where you're from, how you shop or what you like to eat, everyone deserves to have fresh, affordable and easy-to-enjoy food that tastes amazing. Kroger's ability to be America's food partner is our competitive advantage."