Kroger misses same-store sales estimates, shares fall

(Reuters) – Kroger Co missed quarterly same-store sales estimates on Thursday, as disruptions caused by the supermarket chain changing the way it stocks merchandise on shelves kept some customers away from its stores. The company’s shares fell 7 percent to $29.51 in premarket trading. Under its “Restock” program launched this year, Kroger has been adjusting product assortments, rearranging store layouts and highlighting private label brands on its shelves. However, analysts have said that the short-term disruption and inconvenience the program has caused could lead some customers to shop for their groceries elsewhere. The company said its adjusted gross margin fell 36 basis points in the second quarter from a year earlier, hurt by price cuts and higher freight costs. The company’s same-store sales, excluding fuel, rose 1.6 percent in the quarter. Analysts on average had expected a 1.86 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S Kroger said its net income jumped 44 percent to $508 million, or 62 cents per share, in the quarter ended Aug. 18. Excluding one-time items, Kroger earned 41 cents per share. Analysts had estimated a profit of 38 cents. Total sales rose 1 percent to $27.87 billion, but missed analysts’ estimate of $27.95 billion.