Kroger Co. has announced a two-for-one stock split and other investor-friendly measures, reflecting confidence in its future after what its CEO called a “blockbuster” 2014.
Shareholders of record on July 6 will receive an additional Kroger share a week later, increasing total outstanding shares from 481 million to 962 million. The stock split is Kroger’s first since 1999.
The nation’s largest supermarket chain also announced Thursday that it will boost its quarterly dividend by 13.5% percent and spend $500 million on a new share repurchase program. The dividend will go up from 21 cents from 18.5 cents, so shareholders as of Aug. 14 will be paid 10.5 cents per split-adjusted share on Sept. 1.
“Today’s actions reflect our board of directors’ confidence in Kroger’s long-term performance and ability to deliver growth consistently to our investors,” CEO Rodney McMullen said in a news release.
Kroger posted better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter of 2015 and, according to The Wall Street Journal, “has been taking a bigger share of the food-retail market, which has broadened in recent years to encompass big-box giants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and dollar stores.”
“By all measures, 2014 was a blockbuster year,” McMullen told shareholders at Kroger’s annual general meeting, noting that the company’s profits grew robustly, sales and market share continued to climb and the stock soared 91% — outperforming 490 other companies on the S&P 500.
Kroger has also been boosted by acquisitions such as its deals for Harris Teeter, a higher-end supermarket chain, and Vitacost.com, which provides access to online ordering and delivery.
The new share repurchase program replaces the prior authorization, which has been exhausted.
“Kroger’s strong financial position has allowed the company to return approximately $11.7 billion to shareholders through share repurchases since January 2000,” McMullen said. “We remain committed to delivering value to shareholders.”
Kroger stock closed Friday at $73.12, up 0.23%.