FINANCE

Kroger offers stock split, higher dividend

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cincinnati – The Kroger Co. is responding to explosive financial performance with a two-for-one stock split, dividend increase and share buyback program. Kroger has delivered double-digit compound growth in its dividend since it was reinstated in 2006, and expects further growth.

Kroger's board raised the quarterly dividend to 21 cents per share on a pre-split basis, or 13.5%. Because the dividend will be paid after the stock split is effective, shareholders of record as of Aug. 14, 2015 will be paid 10.5 cents per split-adjusted share on Sept. 1, 2015.

Kroger's Board also approved a two-for-one split of its common shares. On or about July 13, 2015, each shareholder as of July 6, 2015 will receive a dividend of one common share for each common share held.

The stock split will increase the net number of common shares from approximately 481 million to 962 million. This is the fifth stock split in Kroger's history. The stock split previously in 1979, 1986, 1997 and 1999.

In addition, Kroger's board approved a $500 million share repurchase program, replacing a prior repurchase authorization which has been exhausted.

“Today's actions reflect our Board of Directors' confidence in Kroger's long-term performance and ability to deliver growth consistently to our investors," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "The stock split will increase the accessibility of our shares and liquidity in the trading of our shares. We are especially excited that the stock split will make Kroger's common shares more accessible to all of our associates."

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FINANCE

Rite Aid shareholders pull back CEO parachute

BY Dan Berthiaume

Camp Hill, Pa. – Shareholders of Rite Aid Corp. have voted to tighten the reins of the “golden parachute” payment CEO John Standley will receive if the company is acquired and he loses his job as a result. Standley had previously been slated to receive $42 million in such an event, including $31.6 million in vested equity.

However, on June 25, majority of shareholders voted against board recommendations and in favor of a proposal from CtW Investment Group, which holds 865 Rite Aid shares and advises stakeholders holding 0.18% of the company’s stock, to tie the vesting to a pro-rata amount based on CEO performance until an acquisition occurs. CtW Investment is tied to the pro-union organization Change to Win.

Walgreens has previously said it may consider a Rite Aid purchase, and there has been general speculation that the chain may be a takeover target.

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FINANCE

Metro to buy back up to 450,000 shares

BY Dan Berthiaume

Montreal – Metro Inc. intends to purchase up to 450,000 shares of its stock from in a private transaction with an “arm’s-length” third-party seller on or before Sept. 9, 2015. The price will be privately negotiated and a t a discount from the prevailing market price.

These purchases will form part of Metro's 17.1 million share repurchase program announced in September 2010 and renewed in September 2014.

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