Kroger Eases Debt Service; Stock Buybacks to Rise

Kroger said yesterday that it will no longer need to devote a third of its cash to servicing debt, and will instead step up a stock buyback program.

CINCINNATI — Kroger here said yesterday that it will no longer need to devote a third of its cash to servicing debt, and will instead step up a stock buyback program. The move met the approval of rating agency Standard & Poor’s, which also yesterday upgraded Kroger’s corporate credit outlook to “positive” — seen as the first step toward a rating upgrade — citing lower debt and improvements in sales and earnings. Kroger officials said the company has reduced total debt by $2.2 billion whil

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