State of Wisconsin Investment Board Decreases Holdings in Kroger (KR)

State of Wisconsin Investment Board cut its stake in Kroger (NYSE:KR) by 37.4% in the 1st quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 525,273 shares of the company’s stock after selling 314,260 shares during the quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board owned about 0.06% of Kroger worth $12,575,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently modified their holdings of the company. Advisory Services Network LLC raised its holdings in Kroger by 297.2% in the 4th quarter. Advisory Services Network LLC now owns 3,773 shares of the company’s stock worth $104,000 after purchasing an additional 2,823 shares in the last quarter. Compagnie Lombard Odier SCmA bought a new position in shares of Kroger in the 4th quarter worth about $119,000. Bessemer Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Kroger by 97.2% in the 4th quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. now owns 4,980 shares of the company’s stock worth $136,000 after acquiring an additional 2,455 shares in the last quarter. Gradient Investments LLC bought a new position in shares of Kroger in the 4th quarter worth about $152,000. Finally, SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC bought a new position in shares of Kroger in the 4th quarter worth about $162,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 76.73% of the company’s stock.

Kroger opened at $24.89 on Monday, according to MarketBeat.com. The company has a current ratio of 0.78, a quick ratio of 0.32 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.74. The company has a market capitalization of $20.01 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.20, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.05 and a beta of 1.03. Kroger has a 12-month low of $19.69 and a 12-month high of $31.45.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, March 8th. The company reported $0.63 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.63. The company had revenue of $31.03 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $30.81 billion. Kroger had a net margin of 1.55% and a return on equity of 29.27%. The firm’s revenue was up 12.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.53 earnings per share. equities research analysts predict that Kroger will post 2.07 earnings per share for the current year.

Kroger declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, March 15th that permits the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, June 1st. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, May 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.125 per share. This represents a $0.50 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.01%. The ex-dividend date is Monday, May 14th. Kroger’s dividend payout ratio is currently 24.51%.

In other Kroger news, VP Todd A. Foley sold 3,800 shares of Kroger stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $24.43, for a total transaction of $92,834.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 31,273 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $763,999.39. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. 1.07% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of analysts have weighed in on the stock. Sanford C. Bernstein assumed coverage on shares of Kroger in a research note on Friday, March 9th. They set a “market perform” rating and a $27.00 price objective for the company. BMO Capital Markets set a $27.00 price objective on shares of Kroger and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, March 12th. Bank of America upgraded shares of Kroger from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their price objective for the company from $28.00 to $33.00 in a research note on Thursday. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Kroger from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, March 20th. Finally, Pivotal Research restated a “buy” rating and set a $28.00 price objective (down from $32.00) on shares of Kroger in a research note on Tuesday, March 6th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have assigned a hold rating, eleven have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $27.48.

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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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Kroger (NYSE:KR)

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