NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger Co. reports its fourth-quarter results Thursday, which should give a snapshot of how the nation's largest traditional supermarket chain is faring in its effort to fend off growing competition.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Cincinnati-based company, which also operates the Fry's, Food 4 Less and Ralphs chains, has been working to improve the shopping experience amid intensifying competition from big-box retailers such as Target, natural grocery chains like Whole Foods and dollar stores.
In the previous quarter, the company said sales at locations open at least a year rose 3.2 percent. The metric is a key gauge of health because it strips out the impact of newly opened and closed locations.
WHY IT MATTERS: People have a growing number of options for buying their groceries. Wal-Mart and Target have been expanding their grocery sections and even dollar stores are changing their formats and merchandise offerings to appear more like grocery stores. As a result, Kroger has found itself experimenting with new formats as well.
Its larger "Marketplace" stores, for example, have a bigger footprint and sell general merchandise in addition to groceries. It has also opened about a dozen smaller "Ruler" stores that focus primarily on cheaper, private-label products. CEO Dave Dillon has noted that Kroger has kept pace with changing habits by constantly evolving its store formats.
LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: Kroger lost $306.9 million, or 54 cents per share. Not including one-time charges, the company earned 50 cents per share. Revenue was $21.4 billion.
WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts expect a profit of 70 cents per share on revenue of $24.03 billion.