NEWS ROUNDUP

Kroger's Debt Rating Upgradedestors Service upgraded the ratings on the long-term debt of Kroger Co. here last month.The upgrade reflects Kroger's "strong and geographically diversified customer franchise, its improving debt-coverage ratios and the company's business development strategy, which should translate into substantially higher earnings and cash flow," Moody's said in a report.Moody's said

Kroger's Debt Rating Upgraded

estors Service upgraded the ratings on the long-term debt of Kroger Co. here last month.

The upgrade reflects Kroger's "strong and geographically diversified customer franchise, its improving debt-coverage ratios and the company's business development strategy, which should translate into substantially higher earnings and cash flow," Moody's said in a report.

Moody's said Kroger's "strong customer franchise" should help it meet the competitive challenge that it faces in certain markets from Wal-Mart Supercenters and new supermarket entrants. However, the possibility of "a long-lasting labor strike is a risk factor that could hurt profitability short term."

Kroger, the nation's largest supermarket operator, had long-term debt of about $4.1 billion as of Jan. 1.

Among the debt affected by Moody's revised ratings are the senior secured notes, which were upgraded from Ba2 to Ba1.

Albertson's OKs Buy-Back Plan

BOISE, Idaho -- The board of directors of Albertson's here has approved a resolution authorizing, but not requiring, the company to purchase up to 2.5 million shares of its common stock on the open market.

A previous resolution, which authorized the company to purchase and retire 2 million shares, expired March 31 without any stock being purchased.

The new stock purchase program began April 1 and will expire March 31, 1995.

Jonathan Ziegler, a securities analyst with Salomon Bros., New York, said a company's willingness to buy its own stock is a "mild positive for investors." It would be even better for investors if the company purchases the shares, he said.

"But Albertson's has not been an aggressive stock purchaser, except for the buyback on the stock owned by Joe Albertson at the time of his death," Ziegler said.

Since September 1987 Albertson's has purchased and retired the equivalent of about 12.4 million shares.

Gooding's to Add Three Units

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Gooding's Super Markets here will add three new stores, all of which are scheduled to open at the end of this year or in early 1995.

The new stores will raise Gooding's store count to 20 units. All the stores are located in central Florida.

The chain will model the new stores, in DeLand, Deltona and Kissimmee, Fla., after a 54,000-square-foot prototype that first opened last November in Orlando. The store in DeLand, the smallest of the three new units at 36,000 square feet, is scheduled to open this fall.

The Deltona store, which will be 58,000 square feet, includes a dry cleaner, bank, bakery, deli, Western Union office, photo finishing center and a 5,000-square-foot food court.

A 47,000-square-foot store in Kissimmee will be located near the entrance to Florida's new Splendid China theme park.

QFC to Enter Olympic Peninsula

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Quality Food Centers here has agreed to acquire a store in Sequim, Wash., which marks the chain's entry to western Washington's Olympic Peninsula.

Financial terms of the transaction, which is expected to be completed by early spring, were not disclosed.

The store currently operates as Sequim SuperValu Foods. Steve and Bonnie Rose, owners of the store for the past six years, will continue to be "active in store operation" after the deal closes, QFC said in a statement.

Once the deal is completed, however, QFC plans to replace the existing 32,000-square-foot store with a new 35,000-square-foot store across the street. QFC operates 39 stores in the Seattle/Puget Sound area.

Vons to Support School Sports

ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here will donate approximately $5 million over the next year to the California Interscholastic Federation to support sports programs at more than 1,200 public, private and parochial high schools in the state.

The donation will be in the form of cash, based on sales of Vons Country Hearth bread.