Kroger Company (The) (NYSE:KR) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Stiff competition, falling comps, volatility in food prices, aggressive promotional environment and waning store traffic are making things tough for Kroger that has underperformed the industry in the past six months. This is evident from first-quarter fiscal 2017 results, wherein bottom line continues to decline year over year for the third straight quarter, despite an increase in the top line fueled by recent buyouts. Subsequently, management trimmed its earnings per share projection for fiscal 2017, and now expects the same to fall in the second quarter with marginal improvement in the third quarter. Nevertheless, a dominant position among grocery retailers enables Kroger to sustain sales growth, expand store base and boost market share. It has also kept its long term earnings per share growth rate target of 8–11% intact and expects it to attain on the back of customer 1st strategy, effective cost management and share buyback activities.”

Other research analysts also recently issued reports about the company. BMO Capital Markets set a $32.00 price objective on Kroger Company (The) and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Saturday, June 10th. Deutsche Bank AG reissued a “buy” rating on shares of Kroger Company (The) in a research note on Friday, May 12th. Bank of America Corporation downgraded Kroger Company (The) from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note on Thursday, June 15th. ValuEngine downgraded Kroger Company (The) from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, June 2nd. Finally, Vetr downgraded Kroger Company (The) from a “strong-buy” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $33.46 price objective on the stock. in a research note on Wednesday, May 10th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have assigned a hold rating, nine have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $30.09.

Kroger Company (NYSE:KR) traded down 0.069% during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $21.705. 5,600,864 shares of the company traded hands. The firm has a market capitalization of $19.48 billion, a PE ratio of 13.067 and a beta of 0.76. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $23.31 and its 200 day moving average price is $27.63. Kroger Company has a 12 month low of $20.46 and a 12 month high of $36.44.

Kroger Company (The) (NYSE:KR) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, June 15th. The company reported $0.58 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.58. Kroger Company (The) had a return on equity of 29.10% and a net margin of 1.35%. The company had revenue of $36.29 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $35.69 billion. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.70 EPS. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 4.9% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Kroger Company will post $1.98 earnings per share for the current year.

Kroger Company (The) announced that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback plan on Thursday, June 22nd that authorizes the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to reacquire up to 4.9% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are often an indication that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

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In related news, insider J Michael Schlotman purchased 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, June 26th. The shares were acquired at an average price of $22.73 per share, with a total value of $45,460.00. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Director Susan M. Phillips sold 6,200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.17, for a total value of $131,254.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now directly owns 124,105 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,627,302.85. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.87% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Canal Capital Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of Kroger Company (The) during the first quarter valued at about $233,000. Tocqueville Asset Management L.P. increased its position in shares of Kroger Company (The) by 6.3% in the first quarter. Tocqueville Asset Management L.P. now owns 163,321 shares of the company’s stock valued at $4,816,000 after buying an additional 9,750 shares during the last quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board increased its position in shares of Kroger Company (The) by 25.5% in the first quarter. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board now owns 1,571,513 shares of the company’s stock valued at $46,344,000 after buying an additional 319,200 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Kroger Company (The) by 74.3% in the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 8,421,749 shares of the company’s stock valued at $248,358,000 after buying an additional 3,589,125 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Deroy & Devereaux Private Investment Counsel Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Kroger Company (The) during the first quarter valued at about $9,140,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.63% of the company’s stock.

Kroger Company (The) Company Profile

The Kroger Co (Kroger) manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The Company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, jewelry stores and convenience stores throughout the United States. As of January 28, 2017, it had operated approximately 4,000 owned or leased supermarkets, convenience stores, fine jewelry stores, distribution warehouses and food production plants through divisions, subsidiaries or affiliates.

Analyst Recommendations for Kroger Company (The) (NYSE:KR)

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