While Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket operator and owner of Ralphs, Smith’s and Food 4 Less chains, reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales Wednesday, investors didn’t take kindly to a cautious outlook for next year. Shares dropped 2.2% mid-day on trading volume of 6.2 million, nearly double its average.
Like all grocers, Kroger is facing a shorter holiday season and slow economic recovery exacerbated by the $5 billion cut in food stamps on Nov. 1, which affects one out of seven Americans.
Still, Kroger retained its forecast for sales growth of between 3% and 3.5% for the full fiscal year and still projects annual profit of $2.73 to $2.80 a share.
Kroger, the top-performing mainstream U.S. grocer, maintained its forecast for full-year identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, in the range of 3% to 3.5% and annual profit of $2.73 to $2.80 per share.