Kroger 3Q sales jump as virus surges and Americans stock up

Kroger’s sales surged in the third quarter as COVID-19 infections began to surge in the fall and Americans again began to restock pantries.

The grocer boosted its full-year outlook believing that families will continue eating at home to reduce their risks to exposure.

Revenue climbed to $29.72 billion, from $27.97 billion and online sales more than doubled. That was a little shy of the $29.98 billion Wall Street was looking for, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research, and shares fell almost 5% at the opening bell Thursday.

Citi’s Paul Lejuez said in a research note Thursday he was expecting stronger signals from the company for the fourth quarter, and that might be contributing to a sell-off after a pretty strong quarter.

However, comparable-store sales rose 10.9% excluding fuel sales, which topped projections, and its profit was better than analysts had expected.

Kroger Co. earned $631 million, or 80 cents per share, for the three months ended Nov. 7. A year earlier it earned $263 million, or 32 cents per share.

Adjusted earnings were 71 cents per share. This beat the 66 cents per share that Wall Street was looking for.

For the full year, the Cincinnati grocer now anticipates adjusted earnings per share growth of between 50% and 53%. It expects comparable-store sales to be up around 14%. That’s up a point from earlier same-store sales forecasts, but it broadened its earnings-per-share growth to the lower side.