Kroger forecasts upbeat 2020 sales on pandemic boost By Reuters

© Reuters. An aisle of a Ralphs grocery store, which is owned by Kroger Co, is pictured ahead of company results in Altadena

(Reuters) – U.S. supermarket chain Kroger Co (N:) said on Friday it expects full-year comparable sales to rise more than 13% after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results, driven by a surge in online grocery sales as customers cooked more at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s shares rose 4% before the opening bell.

The virus outbreak has led to consumers cooking more meals at home, leading to rising demand for groceries and canned soups, as people work from home and classes at schools and colleges resume online.

The updated forecast for 2020 follows strong performance in the first half, and on expectations of sustained trends in food-at-home consumption, Chief Financial Officer Gary Millerchip said.

The company also forecast full-year earnings between $3.20 and $3.30 per share. Analysts are expecting 2020 comparable sales of 10.15% and earnings of $2.90 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

For the second quarter ended Aug. 15, Kroger said sales at stores open for more than a year rose 14.6%, beating estimates of a 10.96% rise, boosted by a jump in online sales.

On an adjusted basis, Kroger earned 73 cents per share, beating estimates of 55 cents per share.

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