Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Kroger (NYSE:KR) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Kroger have outpaced the industry in the past three months. The stock got a major boost after the company posted better-than-expected first-quarter results, prompting management to raise the lower end of fiscal 2018 earnings view. Kroger is trying all means to overcome competition in the grocery space, which is undergoing a fundamental change with technology playing a key role and focus shifting to online shopping. Kroger has taken stock of the situation. It is introducing digital coupons, order online pick up in store and smart shopping lists. The “Restock Kroger” program is also gaining traction. Certainly, the grocery industry is no longer shielded from the e-commerce war. Given this scenario, the Ocado deal along with the acquisition of Home Chef is definitely a good move. However, higher investments in new services may strain margins. Additionally, a high debt load may impact credit worthiness.”

Several other research analysts also recently commented on the stock. Northcoast Research reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $36.00 target price on shares of Kroger in a research note on Monday, July 23rd. Citigroup assumed coverage on shares of Kroger in a research note on Friday, July 6th. They issued a buy rating on the stock. TheStreet raised shares of Kroger from a c+ rating to a b rating in a research note on Friday, June 29th. Deutsche Bank assumed coverage on shares of Kroger in a research note on Monday, July 2nd. They issued a hold rating and a $30.00 target price on the stock. Finally, MED assumed coverage on shares of Kroger in a research note on Monday, July 2nd. They issued a hold rating and a $30.00 target price on the stock. They noted that the move was a valuation call. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have assigned a hold rating and seven have given a buy rating to the stock. Kroger has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $29.19.

Shares of KR traded up $0.32 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $30.14. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 6,361,199 shares, compared to its average volume of 7,907,759. The firm has a market cap of $24.39 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.77, a PEG ratio of 2.15 and a beta of 0.95. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.74, a quick ratio of 0.29 and a current ratio of 0.76. Kroger has a 52 week low of $19.69 and a 52 week high of $31.45.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, June 21st. The company reported $0.73 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.63 by $0.10. Kroger had a net margin of 2.93% and a return on equity of 29.59%. The company had revenue of $37.53 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $37.25 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.58 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.4% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts predict that Kroger will post 2.12 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, September 1st. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, August 15th will be given a dividend of $0.14 per share. This is an increase from Kroger’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.13. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.86%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, August 14th. Kroger’s payout ratio is presently 24.51%.

In other Kroger news, VP Carin L. Fike sold 4,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.76, for a total transaction of $115,040.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 29,361 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $844,422.36. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Susan J. Kropf sold 13,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, July 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.43, for a total transaction of $369,590.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 101,171 shares in the company, valued at $2,876,291.53. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.07% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Landaas & Co. WI ADV purchased a new stake in shares of Kroger in the 2nd quarter worth about $100,000. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV grew its position in shares of Kroger by 100.2% in the 2nd quarter. Creative Financial Designs Inc. ADV now owns 5,170 shares of the company’s stock worth $147,000 after buying an additional 2,587 shares during the period. Kiley Juergens Wealth Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Kroger in the 2nd quarter worth about $173,000. AdvisorNet Financial Inc grew its position in shares of Kroger by 355.1% in the 2nd quarter. AdvisorNet Financial Inc now owns 6,371 shares of the company’s stock worth $181,000 after buying an additional 4,971 shares during the period. Finally, Gables Capital Management Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Kroger in the 1st quarter worth about $197,000. 81.76% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Kroger

The Kroger Co, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a retailer in the United States. It also manufactures and processes food products for sale in its supermarkets. The company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; multi-department stores provide general merchandise items, such as apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, toys, and fine jewelry; and price impact warehouse stores offer grocery, and health and beauty care items, as well as meat, dairy, baked goods, and fresh produce items.

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