Kroger Company (The) (NYSE:KR) saw unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Investors purchased 31,730 put options on the stock. This represents an increase of 607% compared to the typical volume of 4,485 put options.

KR has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. restated a “buy” rating and issued a $28.00 price objective on shares of Kroger Company (The) in a report on Tuesday, September 5th. J P Morgan Chase & Co downgraded Kroger Company (The) from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and decreased their price objective for the company from $34.00 to $24.00 in a report on Friday, June 16th. Morgan Stanley downgraded Kroger Company (The) from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and decreased their price objective for the company from $40.00 to $30.00 in a report on Monday, June 19th. TheStreet downgraded Kroger Company (The) from a “b” rating to a “c+” rating in a report on Thursday, June 15th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company restated a “buy” rating and issued a $28.00 price objective (down from $35.00) on shares of Kroger Company (The) in a report on Monday, June 12th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have assigned a hold rating, eight have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $29.70.

Kroger Company (KR) opened at 21.06 on Friday. Kroger Company has a 52-week low of $20.41 and a 52-week high of $36.44. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $23.12 and its 200-day moving average is $26.90. The company has a market cap of $18.90 billion, a PE ratio of 12.68 and a beta of 0.79.

Kroger Company (The) (NYSE:KR) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, September 8th. The company reported $0.39 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the consensus estimate of $0.39. Kroger Company (The) had a net margin of 1.35% and a return on equity of 29.10%. The company had revenue of $27.60 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $27.48 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.47 earnings per share. Kroger Company (The)’s quarterly revenue was up 3.9% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts predict that Kroger Company will post $1.98 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Kroger Company (The) declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, June 22nd that authorizes the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to reacquire up to 4.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 1st. Investors of record on Tuesday, August 15th were given a dividend of $0.125 per share. The ex-dividend date was Friday, August 11th. This represents a $0.50 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.37%. This is a boost from Kroger Company (The)’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.12. Kroger Company (The)’s payout ratio is currently 30.12%.

In other news, Director Susan M. Phillips sold 6,200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 16th. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.17, for a total transaction of $131,254.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 124,105 shares in the company, valued at $2,627,302.85. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider J Michael Schlotman purchased 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 26th. The shares were bought at an average price of $22.73 per share, with a total value of $45,460.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. 0.85% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Aldebaran Financial Inc. boosted its stake in Kroger Company (The) by 0.6% during the first quarter. Aldebaran Financial Inc. now owns 14,130 shares of the company’s stock worth $417,000 after acquiring an additional 78 shares in the last quarter. Savant Capital LLC boosted its stake in Kroger Company (The) by 0.9% during the second quarter. Savant Capital LLC now owns 10,617 shares of the company’s stock worth $248,000 after acquiring an additional 90 shares in the last quarter. Cadence Capital Management LLC boosted its stake in Kroger Company (The) by 0.7% during the first quarter. Cadence Capital Management LLC now owns 19,717 shares of the company’s stock worth $581,000 after acquiring an additional 143 shares in the last quarter. Peapack Gladstone Financial Corp boosted its stake in Kroger Company (The) by 1.4% during the second quarter. Peapack Gladstone Financial Corp now owns 11,343 shares of the company’s stock worth $265,000 after acquiring an additional 154 shares in the last quarter. Finally, YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC boosted its stake in Kroger Company (The) by 4.1% during the first quarter. YorkBridge Wealth Partners LLC now owns 4,323 shares of the company’s stock worth $125,000 after acquiring an additional 171 shares in the last quarter. 74.63% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Kroger Company (The)

The Kroger Co (Kroger) manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The Company operates supermarkets, multi-department stores, jewelry stores and convenience stores throughout the United States. As of January 28, 2017, it had operated approximately 4,000 owned or leased supermarkets, convenience stores, fine jewelry stores, distribution warehouses and food production plants through divisions, subsidiaries or affiliates.

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