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Kroger records Q4 net loss despite boost in total, same-store sales

BY Allison Cerra

CINCINNATI — Despite recording an increase in total and identical-store sales during fourth quarter 2011, Kroger reported a net loss due to costs associated with consolidating its pension plan for union workers.

The grocer, whose banners include Kroger, Ralphs and Food 4 Less, said the loss of of $306.9 million, or 54 cents per share, 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% (excluding fuel).

Fiscal year 2011 sales also were affected by the pension plan consolidation: earnings totaled $602.1 million or $1.01 per diluted share, compared with the year-ago period’s $1.1 billion, or $1.74 per diluted share. When excluding the affect, earnings for the year were $1.2 billion, or $2 per diluted share.

 

Meanwhile, total sales increased 10.2% to $90.4 billion, compared with $82.0 billion for fiscal year 2010. Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 5% over the same period last year. Same-store sales, without fuel, increased 4.9% in fiscal year 2011, compared with the prior fiscal year.

Looking ahead, Kroger anticipates same-store sales growth, excluding fuel, of approximately 3% to 3.5% for fiscal year 2012, which includes the expected negative effect on sales from prescription drugs coming off patent. The company also noted that its business model is structured to produce annual EPS growth averaging 6% to 8%, plus a dividend of 1.5% to 2%, for a total shareholder return of approximately 8% to 10%. Full-year net earnings for fiscal 2012 are expected to range from $2.28 to $2.38 per diluted share.

"Kroger increased identical sales, grew market share and invested wisely to continue to win customer loyalty," Kroger chairman and CEO David Dillon said. "That we were able to raise earnings per share and identical-sales guidance through the year and achieve those higher results demonstrates the strength of our business strategy and momentum for a strong 2012."

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Keystone Eco Booster 2.0 enters market

BY Allison Cerra

SUNRISE, Fla. — Concord Keystone has introduced a new portable battery pack designed for Android smartphones and Apple products, including iPhones and iPods.

The Keystone Eco Booster 2.0 comes with a built-in retractable micro USB charging cable, so it recharges smartphones without the need for additional loose cables. The pack also features blue LED indicator lights to assure the user that charging is taking place and also displays the power level in the battery pack. What’s more, the pack can be attached to the back of the phone using an adhesive gel pad concealed beneath a removable, snap-on protective cover.

The Keystone Eco Booster 2.0 carries a suggested retail price of $44.99.

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CVS Caremark’s Accordant Health Services to collaborate with Michael J. Fox Foundation

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I., and NEW YORK  — Accordant Health Services, a CVS Caremark company, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research on Wednesday announced a collaboration to provide to patients with Parkinson’s disease who are enrolled in Accordant-sponsored care management programs information about resources available through the foundation.

Accordant provides care management services for people with rare, chronic conditions. As the world’s largest private funder of Parkinson’s research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson’s disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today.

Through this collaboration, The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s research experts will contribute content for Accordant patient newsletters and mailings about Parkinson’s disease and available treatments, as well as the latest updates on research. The foundation also will share with Accordant patients information about the importance of participating in clinical research, and education on Fox Trial Finder, a new Web-based solution that is designed to make it easier for volunteers to find the specific Parkinson’s clinical trials that need them.

"Accordant is excited to work with The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Both of our organizations share a commitment to supporting patients with Parkinson’s disease as they proactively seek how to get the best out of their treatment," said Andrew Krueger, medical director for Accordant Health Services. "This partnership enables us to connect patients with Parkinson’s disease with access to cutting edge information and updates on research, disease information to supplement the education and support we provide, and a resource to find current clinical trials and access to the support and resources the Foundation can offer to them and their families."

"Our foundation wants PD patients and their loved ones to know they can play a vital role in helping speed a cure," added Todd Sherer, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "Our collaboration with Accordant will help us provide the Parkinson’s community with information and tools that can help them get involved and make a difference for everyone living with the disease."


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