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Kroger reports Q3 numbers, reffirms guidance prior to investor conference

BY Jenna Duncan

CINCINNATI Kroger has updated its same-store sales guidance for the third quarter of 2008 and reaffirmed its annual same-store sales and earnings per share guidance from last month the company said.

The reaffirmations came just before a conference call today with investors to discuss the company’s standing.

For the eight weeks ended Aug.17, Kroger’s same-store sales grew by more than 5 percent, not including fuel. The second four weeks were stronger than the first, the company said, attributing weaker results to temporary store closures that happened during Hurricane Ike.

David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Kroger continues to see solid identical sales growth through the first eight weeks of the third quarter because of the commitment of associates in all aspects of our business to our customer-driven strategy. In this uncertain economy, we are delivering value to shoppers on any budget through our Customer 1st approach. Our financial strategy provides us with sufficient liquidity to finance our short-term borrowing needs through our $2.5 billion five-year credit facility that matures in November 2011. On peak borrowing days, we expect that more than $1.2 billion of this facility would remain available.  In addition, Kroger maintains uncommitted money market lines totaling $75 million.”

After review of its year-to-date results, and a restatement its goals moving forward, Kroger reaffirmed its expectation of same-store sales growth by 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent, not including fuel, for fiscal 2008. Kroger also reaffirmed its earnings guidance of $1.85 to $1.90 per diluted share for the period (without effects of Hurricane Ike factored in). This projection reflects growth by 9 percent to 12 percent above the earnings of $1.69 per diluted share in 2007, the company said. 

More details on the company’s guidance were included in the Form 8-K the Company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission today. Kroger will file its full report for the third quarter Dec. 9. 

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Kimberly-Clark names new director of global marketing

BY Jenna Duncan

IRVING, Texas Mark Kaline has been named to the Kimberly-Clark management team to serve in a new position—global media director, the company said Tuesday. Kaline officially takes his chair Oct. 20.

The Global Marketing Organization at Kimberly-Clark, which was formed last April,  directs attention towards global brand-building and instituting and perpetuating best practices in its business divisions, the company said.

Kaline joins Kimberly-Clark’s global marketing team after working for Ford Motor Company as online and traditional media buying manager for about 11 years. He also worked for Ford’s consolidated media operations in Canada, Europe and Mexico and created the Branded Entertainment Group at Ford.

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A&P reports sales for Q2, plans some adjustments for acquired Pathmark stores

BY Antoinette Alexander

MONTVALE, N.J. A&P acknowledged that its second quarter results were challenged by the acquired Pathmark stores but the grocer maintains that the integration is on track.

“Top line results and retail fundamentals were quite favorable in all formats with adjusted EBITDA ahead of prior year. However, even though Price Impact Pathmark stores experienced very strong top line performance with strong comp store sales and improved market share, overall earnings were below management expectations driven by a gross margin shortfall in that format. Most of this shortfall relates to Pathmark transition issues for which corrective actions have already been taken so that they do not occur again,” said Eric Claus, president and chief executive officer.

The company noted that the Pathmark integration is on track as it has realized about $25 million of synergies during the quarter, comprised of reduced administrative costs, reduced merchandise costs as well as reductions in store operating, marketing and advertising costs. At the end of the second quarter, the run rate of synergies was about $120 million or about 80 percent of the original target of $150 million.

Sales for the second quarter were $2.2 billion versus $1.3 billon last year. Same-store sales, which excludes sales for Pathmark acquired in December 2007, rose 2.8 percent. Pathmark’s same-store sales increased 2.9 percent.

Net loss from continuing operations was $3.6 million compared with a loss of $2.9 million in the year-ago period. Prior year?s results exclude the results of Pathmark prior to the date of acquisition.

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