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Kroger surpasses Q3 profit, misses on sales

BY Marianne Wilson

CINCINNATI — The nation’s largest supermarket operator reported profit that surpassed Wall Street expectations and raised its annual forecast.

Kroger Co.’s third-quarter earnings rose 18% to $428 million.

Revenue inched up 0.4% to $25.08 billion for the quarter, ended Nov. 7. missing Street forecasts of $25.22 billion. Kroger cited lower fuel prices as impacting sales.

Same-store sales, excluding fuel, rose 5.4%, more than expected. It was the chain’s 48th consecutive quarter of positive same-store sales growth (excluding fuel.)

“Kroger's consistent results demonstrate once again that our relentless focus on customers is the key to sustainable shareholder returns,” said chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. “We continue to implement our growth plan and expect to exceed our long-term net earnings per diluted share growth rate for fiscal 2015."

Kroger said profit will be as much as $2.04 a share this fiscal year, excluding some items. It previously estimated as much as $1.98 a share, and analysts project $1.99, on average.

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Costco reports November, Q1 sales numbers

BY David Salazar

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco on Wednesday released its November sales, which saw a 3% increase over the same period last year, with net sales totaling $9.68 billion for the four weeks ended Nov. 29. For the company’s 12-week first quarter ended Nov. 22 Costco saw net sales of $26.63 billion, which is a 1% increase over the same period last year. For the 13 weeks ended Nov. 29 the company saw $29.2 billion in net sales, which is 2% more than the same period last year. 
 
The company’s comparable sales in the United States rose 3% for the month, 4% for the 12 weeks and 3% for the 13 weeks. Those numbers rise to 6% across the board if the price of gas deflation and foreign exchange are excluded. For the whole company, comps did not rise at all for the four weeks and 13 weeks, and they dipped by 1% for the first quarter. 
 
Costco will release its operating results for its first quarter on Dec. 8. 
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Walgreens releases first Flu Index of 2015-16 season

BY David Salazar

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday released its Flu Index — the first one of the 2015-16 flu season — covering the week of Nov. 29. The Index uses data for antiviral medications for treating the flu filled every week and lists the top markets and states by flu activity, as well as the states and markets with the most gains in flu activity. 

“With the ability to provide actionable information in a quick and timely manner, and leveraging prescription data that can be a telling indicator of activity, we’re empowering everyone to be informed about flu in their community,” Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations Richard Ashworth said. “The Flu Index has become a powerful and credible tool that has garnered national attention, while also helping health officials at the most local level to keep their communities healthy throughout the season.” 

The 10 markets with the most flu activity for the week of Nov. 29 were:

  1. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas
  2. Jackson, Miss.
  3. Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  4. Knoxville, Tenn.
  5. Oklahoma City, Okla.
  6. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C.
  7. Tyler-Longview (Lufkin & Nacodoches), Texas
  8. El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, N.M.)
  9. Houston, Texas
  10. Lexington, Ky.

And the 10 states with the most flu activity were

  1. Mississippi
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Texas
  4. Kentucky
  5. Tennessee
  6. Alabama
  7. Louisiana
  8. Hawaii
  9. Florida
  10. Arkansas

The markets that saw the most gains in flu activity were: 

  1. Jackson, Miss.
  2. Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.
  3. Huntsville – Decatur (Florence), Ala.
  4. Bakersfield, Calif.
  5. Dayton, Ohio
  6. Tri-Cities, Tenn. – Va.
  7. Portland – Auburn, Maine
  8. Lexington, Ky.
  9. Lansing, Mich.
  10. Roanoke – Lynchburg, Va. 

And the states with the most gains in activity were:

  1. Maine
  2. Wyoming
  3. Oregon
  4. West Virginia
  5. Virginia
  6. Connecticut
  7. Washington
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Mississippi
  10. Minnesota

The Flu Index does not include areas where Walgreens has fewer than 10 locations and is not meant  measure severity or levels of flu activity, but rather incidence. 

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