Fitch Ratings, Chicago, said Thursday it has affirmed the debt ratings for Kroger Co., Cincinnati, with a stable outlook.
The ratings take into account Kroger’s merger with Harris Teeter Supermarkets in January — a transaction Fitch said it views as “neutral to moderately positive,” with risks it said it considers manageable.
“Kroger’s ratings are supported by its industry-leading sales growth and market-share gains and relatively stable operating margins, balanced against ongoing share repurchase activity and intense price competition,” Fitch said.
The chain has a “strong pricing perception” by customers and uses loyalty card data for “effective” and to improve the shopping experience, Fitch added.
“Kroger has gradually managed down its gross margin ratio and has offset this pressure with cost containment efforts and the leveraging of fixed costs,” the ratings agency said.
The ratings Fitch affirmed encompassed Kroger’s long-term issuer default ratings at BBB; its senior unsecured notes at BBB; its bank credit facility at BBB; its short-term IDR at F2; and its commercial paper at F2.
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