Editors Note:

The battle of the brands in the grocery store wars is heating up. There is a new company opening stores all over the east coast and their known for their rock bottom prices. This new entry into the grocery sector promises to shake up an already battered market place.



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KR - Kroger Co - Company Profile

The Kroger Co., operates as a retailer in the United States. It also manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The company operates retail food and drug stores, multi-department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; multi-department stores provide general merchandise items, such as apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, toys, and fine jewelry; and price impact warehouse stores offer grocery, and health and beauty care items, as well as meat, dairy, baked goods, and fresh produce items. The company's marketplace stores comprise full-service grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty departments, and perishable goods, as well as general merchandise, including apparel, home goods, and toys. It operates under the banner brands, such as Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, etc., as well as Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands. As of January 30, 2016, the company operated 2,778 retail food stores, including 1,387 fuel centers; 784 convenience stores; and 323 fine jewelry stores and an online retail store, as well as 78 franchised convenience stores. The Kroger Co. was founded in 1883. Company description from FinViz.com.

I wish I was writing a bullish play recommendation on Kroger but the chart is going in the opposite direction. They have so much going for them it is hard to understand the decline in the stock price. Hardly a week goes by that some broker does not reiterate a bullish rating on initiate a new one. Still the stock continues to fall.

I believe most are not aware of the new competition in the sector. The European discount grocer Lidl (Lee-dle) has established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington VA. They are planning store openings in Virginia, Maryland, NC and SC, Georgia, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Those states are dominated by Kroger's various brands.

Lidl acquired the Harris Teeter Supermarket chain in NC in 2014 to get their foot in the door. The resulting performance of those stores convinced Lidl to go all out in an expansion phase.

Another German chain, Aldi, already has 1,400 discount grocery stores in the U.S. and plans to expand to 2,000 stores by 2018. That is a monster addition to the sector that is already scratching to make pennies on every item.

For Q2, Kroger posted earnings of 47 cents that beat estimates for 45 cents. That was a 6.8% increase over the comparison quarter. However, "due to continued deflation" the company lowered full year earnings guidance from $2.19-$2.28 to $2.10-$2.20 per share. Revenue of $26.565 billion rose 4% but missed estimates for $26.783 billion. Same store sales rose 1.7%. They guided for 0.5% to 1.5% for the rest of 2016, which was lower than Q2.

Earnings Dec 9th.

With Kroger warning about lower earnings I think we could see shares decline back to the $25 range. The stock made a monster move in 2014 and then traded sideways for 2015-2016. That sideways trend has now failed and there is a lot of blank space on this chart.

Buy Jan $30 put, currently $1.45, no initial stop loss.