Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) Short Interest Up 11.7% in October

Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) was the recipient of a significant increase in short interest during the month of October. As of October 31st, there was short interest totalling 35,020,000 shares, an increase of 11.7% from the September 30th total of 31,360,000 shares. Currently, 4.4% of the shares of the company are sold short. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 8,560,000 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 4.1 days.

Shares of NYSE KR traded down $0.16 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $26.75. 4,700,171 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 8,257,613. The firm has a market capitalization of $21.57 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.68, a PEG ratio of 1.93 and a beta of 0.56. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.15, a quick ratio of 0.27 and a current ratio of 0.76. Kroger has a 52-week low of $20.70 and a 52-week high of $30.75. The company’s 50-day moving average is $25.26 and its 200-day moving average is $23.94.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, September 12th. The company reported $0.44 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.41 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $28.17 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $28.34 billion. Kroger had a return on equity of 21.17% and a net margin of 1.36%. The company’s revenue was up .5% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.41 EPS. As a group, equities analysts predict that Kroger will post 2.19 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Sunday, December 1st. Stockholders of record on Friday, November 15th will be issued a dividend of $0.16 per share. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.39%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, November 14th. Kroger’s dividend payout ratio is presently 30.33%.

In related news, EVP J Michael Schlotman sold 68,187 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, September 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $26.02, for a total value of $1,774,225.74. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 295,160 shares in the company, valued at $7,680,063.20. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, SVP Mary Ellen Adcock sold 15,400 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, November 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.00, for a total value of $431,200.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 121,085 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,390,380. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 134,323 shares of company stock worth $3,537,389. 1.34% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in KR. TRUE Private Wealth Advisors purchased a new position in shares of Kroger during the 2nd quarter worth $26,000. Sageworth Trust Co acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 2nd quarter valued at about $33,000. Capital Investment Advisory Services LLC raised its position in Kroger by 57.2% in the 2nd quarter. Capital Investment Advisory Services LLC now owns 1,787 shares of the company’s stock valued at $37,000 after purchasing an additional 650 shares in the last quarter. Venturi Wealth Management LLC acquired a new stake in Kroger in the 3rd quarter valued at about $40,000. Finally, Enterprise Financial Services Corp raised its position in Kroger by 151.6% in the 2nd quarter. Enterprise Financial Services Corp now owns 1,935 shares of the company’s stock valued at $41,000 after purchasing an additional 1,166 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 80.59% of the company’s stock.

A number of equities research analysts recently commented on KR shares. Pivotal Research reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $30.00 target price (up previously from $26.00) on shares of Kroger in a research report on Wednesday, September 11th. Guggenheim set a $26.00 target price on Kroger and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 3rd. BMO Capital Markets reissued a “market perform” rating and issued a $26.00 price target (up from $24.00) on shares of Kroger in a report on Wednesday, September 4th. UBS Group boosted their price target on Kroger from $25.00 to $26.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a report on Friday, September 13th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group reissued an “outperform” rating and issued a $29.00 price target (up from $27.00) on shares of Kroger in a report on Friday, September 13th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $27.35.

About Kroger

The Kroger Co operates as a retailer in the United States. The company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, marketplace stores, and price impact warehouse stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; and multi-department stores provide apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, and toys.

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