Kroger Announces New $500 Million Stock Repurchase Authorization

CINCINNATI  (Profitable.com)  The Kroger Co.’s (NYSE: KR) Board of Directors today authorized the repurchase of $500 million of Kroger common stock, replacing the $225 million remaining under the $1 billion repurchase program announced in January 2008.  The timing of the repurchases will vary according to market conditions.  

Kroger plans to use free cash flow to repurchase shares, pay dividends to shareholders and maintain its current debt rating.  

Kroger has returned $6.0 billion in total stock repurchases to shareholders since January 2000 and $929 million in dividends to shareholders since the dividend program was initiated in 2006.

From January 2000 through the end of the first quarter in fiscal 2010, Kroger reduced total debt by $1.5 billion.

“This new share repurchase authorization reflects the Board’s confidence in Kroger’s Customer 1st strategy and the Kroger team’s ability to continue to deliver results and reward shareholders, both today and in the future,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger chairman and chief executive officer.

Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer, employs more than 334,000 associates who serve customers in 2,470 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 779 convenience stores, 375 fine jewelry stores, 909 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 www.kroger.com

This press release contains a forward-looking statement about the future performance of the Company.  This statement is based on management’s assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it.  This statement is indicated by the word “plans.”  Our plans to use free cash flow to repurchase shares and to pay dividends, and our ability to maintain our current debt rating, will depend on our ability to generate free cash flow, which will be affected by increased competition, weather and economic conditions, interest rates, goodwill impairment, the success of programs designed to increase our identical supermarket sales without fuel, and labor disputes, and the extent to which repurchases can be made and dividends can be paid while still maintaining our debt rating.  The forward-looking statement is 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.