Kroger rides out a storm, competitive and meteorological

Intense competition forcing price cuts at all grocers dragged on profits for Kroger during the second quarter and investors appeared nervous about the company’s outlook, which did not account for hurricanes pounding states along the U.S. coastline.

Shares, already down nearly 30 percent over the past 12 months, slumped 6 percent in early trading Friday.

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The company, which operates Fred Meyer, Ralphs and Fry’s, has been slashing prices to compete with Target and Wal-Mart, and the situation recently grew potentially more precarious. Inc., a major disruptor in any sector it enters, acquired Whole Foods in June and cut prices on a number of items, like avocados, almost immediately.

Kroger has the advantage of scale and revenue rose 3.8 percent to $27.6 billion, edging out Wall Street expectations, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

But because of competitive pressures, margins are being squeezed.

Profit fell 7.8 percent to $353 million, or 39 cents per share, a penny short of analyst projections.

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“While we see continued price pressure as unfortunate, we believe that Kroger is in a much better position to weather this storm than many other players,” wrote Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail. “Its size and scale afford the company much more flexibility on pricing and provide more scope for cost savings elsewhere in the business to offset such reductions.”

Kroger reaffirmed its full-year outlook for earnings between $2 and $2.05 per share, but that does not include any potential impact from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The company also said Friday that it has discontinued the long-term projections it had provided previously.