FINANCE

Kroger swings to loss in Q4

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Cincinnati — The Kroger Co. reported on Thursday that it posted a loss in the quarter ended Jan. 28, attributing the loss to costs associated with consolidating its pension plan for union workers.

The grocer, which counts among its banners Kroger, Ralphs and Food 4 Less, lost $306.9 million in the quarter, compared with a profit of $278.8 million in the year-ago period.

Total sales in the quarter rose 7.7% to $21.4 billion. Excluding fuel, sales rose 5%. Same-store sales increased 4.9%.

The pension-related costs, which impacted earnings in the quarter, had been announced in December, when the company said that four of the union pension funds to which it contributes were merging into a new fund as of the start of this year. Kroger contributed $650 million to the new fund in January as part of the agreement.

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FINANCE

PetSmart Q4 profit surges 13%

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Phoenix — PetSmart Inc. reported Thursday that profit for the fourth quarter rose 13% to $102 million, compared with $90.3 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue during the quarter was $1.64 billion, up from $1.52 billion a year earlier and beating Wall Street’s expected $1.62 billion in revenue. Same-store sales rose 5.5%.

For the full year of 2011, the company reported net income of $290.2 million, up from $239.9 million in 2010. Revenue for the year was $6.11 billion, up from $5.69 billion the year before.

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FINANCE

Wal-Mart boosts annual dividend 9%

BY Staff Writer

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday it is continuing its annual tradition of increasing shareholder payout by raising its dividend by 9%.

Wal-Mart will pay a quarterly dividend of 39.75 cents on April 4 to shareholders of record on March 12. That works out to $1.59 per share for the year. The company has increased its dividend every year since its first declared dividend in March 1974.

According to Wal-Mart president and CEO Mike Duke, the company’s U.S. business is back on track, and international results remain strong.

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