Kroger (KR) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Hold”

Kroger (NYSE:KR) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Friday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Kroger have plunged and underperformed the industry in the past three months. The stock came under pressure following the company’s fourth-quarter fiscal 2018 results, wherein the bottom line not only missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate but also declined year over year. Although, total sales managed to come ahead of the consensus mark, it fell year over year. Management also provided muted earnings view for fiscal 2019. Nonetheless, Kroger is trying to overcome competition. It is introducing digital coupons, order online pick up in store and smart shopping lists. The “Restock Kroger” program is also gaining traction. The grocery industry is no longer shielded from the e-commerce war. Given this scenario, the Ocado deal along with the buyout of Home Chef and using of Nuro’s self-driven car for grocery delivery services are good moves. Kroger also remains committed to improve identical supermarket sales and margins.”

A number of other brokerages have also recently issued reports on KR. Buckingham Research reduced their price objective on shares of Kroger from $24.00 to $22.00 and set an “underperform” rating on the stock in a research note on Friday, March 8th. ValuEngine raised shares of Kroger from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 8th. Evercore ISI initiated coverage on shares of Kroger in a research note on Wednesday, March 20th. They issued an “in-line” rating and a $27.00 price objective on the stock. Morgan Stanley reduced their price objective on shares of Kroger from $27.00 to $26.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research note on Friday, March 8th. Finally, Telsey Advisory Group reaffirmed a “market perform” rating and issued a $29.00 price objective (down from $31.00) on shares of Kroger in a research note on Friday, March 8th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and seven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $30.33.

KR stock traded down $0.33 during midday trading on Friday, reaching $24.33. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 8,223,238 shares, compared to its average volume of 5,657,387. Kroger has a 52 week low of $23.52 and a 52 week high of $32.74. The stock has a market cap of $20.34 billion, a PE ratio of 11.53, a PEG ratio of 1.52 and a beta of 0.64. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.54, a quick ratio of 0.28 and a current ratio of 0.76.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, March 7th. The company reported $0.48 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.51 by ($0.03). Kroger had a net margin of 2.57% and a return on equity of 23.50%. The business had revenue of $28.09 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $28.38 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.63 earnings per share. Kroger’s revenue was down 9.5% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, sell-side analysts predict that Kroger will post 2.22 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, EVP Christopher T. Hjelm sold 16,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, April 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $25.80, for a total transaction of $412,800.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 282,429 shares in the company, valued at $7,286,668.20. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Robert D. Beyer sold 80,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $24.52, for a total transaction of $1,961,600.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 126,800 shares in the company, valued at $3,109,136. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 108,416 shares of company stock worth $2,694,175. Insiders own 1.07% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Lavaca Capital LLC acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 1st quarter valued at $25,000. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 1st quarter valued at $25,000. Doyle Wealth Management acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 4th quarter valued at $26,000. Riverview Trust Co acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 4th quarter valued at $26,000. Finally, Motco acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 1st quarter valued at $28,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 83.32% of the company’s stock.

About Kroger

The Kroger Co operates as a retailer in the United States. The company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, marketplace stores, and price impact warehouse stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; and multi-department stores provide apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, and toys.

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