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Kroger Reports Second Quarter 2011 Results
Identical Supermarket Sales Increased 5.3% without Fuel
Increases Fiscal 2011 Sales Guidance

CINCINNATI, Ohio, September 09, 2011 - The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today reported total sales, including fuel, increased 11.5% to $20.9 billion in the second quarter of fiscal 2011 compared with $18.8 billion for the same period last year. In the second quarter, which ended August 13, 2011, total sales, excluding fuel, increased 5.2% over the same period last year.

Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, increased 5.3% in the second quarter over the same period last year. This marks 31 consecutive quarters of identical supermarket sales increases for Kroger.

Net earnings for the second quarter totaled $280.8 million, or $0.46 per diluted share. Net earnings in the same period last year were $261.6 million, or $0.41 per diluted share.

Both the current and prior year quarters benefited from certain tax adjustments. Without the benefit of these adjustments, earnings per share would have been $0.41 in the second quarter this year, and $0.38 in the second quarter last year. This 7.9% increase is consistent with Kroger's expectations for the quarter and long term earnings growth expectations of 6% to 8% plus a dividend yield of 1.5% to 2.0%.

"We are pleased with Kroger's strong performance this quarter, which we believe is the outcome of our consistent approach to managing the business and executing our Customer 1st strategy," said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "Our ongoing investments in the four keys - our people, products, prices and the shopping experience - continued to enhance our connection with customers and drive positive identical sales growth."

Details of Second Quarter 2011 Results
FIFO gross margin was 21.00% of sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2011. Excluding retail fuel operations, FIFO gross margin decreased 53 basis points from the same period last year.

Kroger recorded a $34.7 million LIFO charge during the quarter compared to $11.5 million in the second quarter last year. Excluding retail fuel sales, the LIFO charge increased 13 basis points as a percentage of sales. Kroger maintained its LIFO charge estimate at $150 million for the year.

Operating, general and administrative (OG&A) costs were 16.01% of sales. Excluding retail fuel operations, OG&A decreased 20 basis points from the same period last year. The benefits of leverage from strong sales, productivity improvements and outstanding cost control more than offset rising credit card fees, incentive plan, health care and pension costs. In addition, depreciation and rent expense were 16 basis points lower as a percentage of sales, excluding fuel, as compared to the prior year.

Second quarter operating margin was 2.33% of sales. Excluding fuel, on a rolling four quarters basis, the company's operating margin increased by 10 basis points.

Financial Strategy
Capital investment, excluding acquisitions and purchases of leased facilities, totaled $428.5 million for the second quarter, compared with $402.5 million for the same period last year.

Net total debt was $6.9 billion, a decrease of $49.0 million from a year ago. On a rolling four quarters basis, Kroger's net total debt to EBITDA ratio, adjusted for impairment charges in 2010 and 2009, was 1.71 compared with 1.87 during the same period last year.

Strong cash flow enabled Kroger to invest $258.6 million to repurchase 10.6 million shares of stock at an average price of $24.30 per share during the second quarter. At the end of the second quarter, approximately $403.4 million remained under the $1 billion stock repurchase program announced in March 2011. Since the end of the quarter, Kroger has purchased 4.5 million shares of stock at an average price of $22.87 per share for a total of $103.5 million.

Fiscal 2011 Guidance
Kroger increased its identical supermarket sales guidance for fiscal 2011. The company now expects identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of 4% to 5% for the year. The previous guidance range was 3.5% to 4.5%.

Kroger maintained its full-year earnings guidance of $1.85 to $1.95 per diluted share. Based on the current operating environment, the company expects to achieve results near the top end of this range.

"Faced with a sluggish economy, we remain focused on giving better value to our customers," Mr. Dillon said. "We continue making investments that deliver value today and for the future for both customers and shareholders."

Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocery retailer, employs more than 338,000 associates who serve customers in 2,439 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 788 convenience stores, 361 fine jewelry stores, 1,046 supermarket fuel centers and 40 food processing plants in the U.S. Kroger, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, focuses its charitable efforts on supporting hunger relief, health and wellness initiatives, and local organizations in the communities it serves. For more information about Kroger, please visit


Note: Fuel sales have historically had a low FIFO gross margin rate and OG&A rate as compared to corresponding rates on non-fuel sales. As a result, in addition to disclosing such rates including the effect of retail fuel operations, Kroger also discusses the changes in these rates excluding the effect of retail fuel operations.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements about the future performance of the company. These statements are based on management's assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it. These statements are indicated by words such as "expects," "maintained," "guidance," and "updated." Aggressive competition, economic conditions, interest rates, goodwill impairment, the success of programs designed to increase our identical supermarket sales without fuel, the impact of increasing fuel costs on consumer spending, and labor disputes, particularly as the company seeks to manage increases in health care and pension costs, could materially affect our expected identical supermarket sales growth and earnings per share. Earnings per share also will be affected by the number of shares outstanding and volatility in the company's fuel margins. Earnings and sales also may be affected by adverse weather conditions, particularly to the extent that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and other conditions disrupt our operations or those of our suppliers; create shortages in the availability or increases in the cost of products that we sell in our stores or materials and ingredients we use in our manufacturing facilities; or raise the cost of supplying energy to our various operations, including the cost of transportation. Our results also will be affected by rising commodity costs, the inconsistency of the economic recovery, consumer confidence, changes in government-funded benefit programs, and changes in inflation or deflation in product and operating costs. These forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially. We assume no obligation to update the information contained herein. Please refer to Kroger's reports and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a further discussion of these risks and uncertainties.

Note: Kroger's quarterly conference call with investors will be broadcast live online at 10 a.m. (ET) on September 9, 2011 at An on-demand replay of the webcast will be available from approximately 1 p.m. (ET) Friday, September 9 through Friday, September 23, 2011.

View 2nd Quarter 2011 Reports - PDF Format:

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Kroger Contacts:
Media: Keith Dailey (513) 762-1304
Investors: Cindy Holmes (513) 762-4969

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