Kroger Co. said Thursday it is raising its quarterly dividend, launching a 2-for-1 stock split and initiating a $500 million stock-buyback program as the grocery chain has reported stronger results in recent quarters.
All Kroger shareholders as of July 6 will receive one additional common share for each share they hold around July 6. This split, the fifth in Kroger's history, will increase the number of shares outstanding to 962 million from 481 million.
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Kroger Chief Executive Rodney McMullen said the stock split "will make Kroger's common shares more accessible to all of our associates."
The company is boosting its quarterly dividend to 21 cents from 18.5 cents, so shareholders as of Aug. 14 will be paid 10.5 cents per split-adjusted share on Sept. 1.
The $500 million share repurchase program replaces the company's prior authorization, which has been exhausted.
Shares of Kroger were up 1.4% to $73.95 in recent trading and have risen 50% in the past year.
Cincinnati-based Kroger has been taking a bigger share of the food-retail market, which has broadened in recent years to encompass big-box giants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and dollar stores.
The company also has been buoyed by acquisitions, such as its deals for Harris Teeter, a higher-end supermarket chain, and Vitacost.com, which provided access to online ordering and delivery.
Recently, the company posted better-than-expected earnings in its first quarter as the grocer also lifted a key sales target for the year.