A Citi analyst downgraded Kroger to "hold," writing that a price war between major grocery retailers will push down revenues in 2009.
Kroger recalled a peanut butter ice cream as a precautionary measure against possible salmonella contamination, sending shares slightly lower.
Kroger announced its guidance for 2009 at 49-52 cents per share, while analysts on average were expected 53 cents. Addtionally, the company forecast comparable store sales at 3-5%, below analysts' forecasts of 5.5%.
Kroger said quarterly profit fell from a year ago when an unexpected tax benefit and other items boosted earnings but the results beat analysts' expectations by a penny. Kroger had a fourth-quarter profit of $322.9 million compared with a profit of $384.8 million in the year earlier period.
Q3 profits jumped 18%, but full-year outlook disappointed investors. Kroger's net income was $253.8 million compared to $214.7 million last year. Sales jumped 9.8% to $16.1 billion.
Kroger reported Q2 profit of 28 percent, which was above the expectations of analysts. The earnings of the company were $267.3 million (38 cents per share), compared to $209 million (29 cents per share) last year, while analysts were expecting profit of 34 cents per share. Further, the company raised its earnings forecast to a range of $1.64 to $1.67 per share from a previously announced outlook of $1.6 to $1.65 per share.
After The Wall Street Journal reports that private equity companies could be plotting a takeover of Kroger, the stock increases almost 7%.
The company's stock jumped 11% after Kroger announced on March 13 that its forth quarter earnings had increased 36%.