CINCINNATI – Shares of The Kroger Co. tumbled 9 percent as the cost of investment in brick-and-mortar stores and its online presence weighed on sales in the second quarter of fiscal 2018.
Kroger reported sales were $27,869 million for the second quarter ended Aug. 18, 2018, compared with $27,597 million in the second quarter of 2017. Net earnings attributable to Kroger during the quarter were $508 million, or $0.62 per diluted share, compared with $353 million, or $0.39 per diluted share in the year-ago period.
“We are only two quarters into our three year Restock Kroger plan, and we are making solid progress,” said Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. “Kroger customers have more ways than ever to engage with us seamlessly through our recently-launched Kroger Ship, expanded availability of Instacart, successful ClickList offering, and selling Simple Truth in China through Alibaba’s Tmall.
“We feel good about our net earnings per diluted share and ID sales results in the second quarter. We expect our investments in space optimization during the first half of 2018 to become a tailwind late in the third quarter.”
Kroger has invested heavily in rearranging stores, e-commerce and grocery delivery as part of its Restock Kroger strategy aimed at galvanizing its business. In addition to ventures such as ClickList, Kroger Ship and the partnership with Alibaba, the company announced its seamless coverage area increased to 80 percent of Kroger households through curbside pickup and home delivery from store. Additionally, Kroger and Silicon Valley startup Nuro are collaborating on an on-road, fully autonomous delivery experience in Scottsdale, Arizona.
During the second quarter, the company launched OptUP, a data-driven app that helps customers make more informed purchase decisions. Kroger reported 130,000 downloads in two months with a goal of 1 million downloads in one year.
In its guidance for 2018, Kroger updated its GAAP net earnings guidance range to $3.88 to $4.03 per diluted share for 2018, from its previous range of $3.64 to $3.79 to reflect unrealized gain in Ocado shares recorded in the second quarter.
On an adjusted basis, the net earnings guidance range remains $2.00 to $2.15 per diluted share for 2018.
For 2018, the company expects capital investments, excluding mergers, acquisitions and purchases of leased facilities, of approximately $3.0 billion.
“We are on track to generate the free cash flow and incremental FIFO operating profit that we committed to in Restock Kroger for 2018-2020, and to deliver on our long-term vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift,” McMullen said.