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Fitch rates Kroger notes

Fitch Ratings, New York, said Thursday it has assigned a BBB rating to Kroger's Co.'s issuance of $500 million worth of 10-year senior unsecured notes, with a stable outlook.


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According to Fitch, Kroger plans to use proceeds from the notes to refinance notes that matured on Jan. 15, as well as for general corporate purposes. As of Nov. 9, 2013, Fitch said Kroger had $8.3 billion of debt outstanding, including capital leases.

"Kroger's ratings are supported by its industry-leading sales growth and market-share gains, balanced against ongoing share repurchase activity and intense price competition that will continue to pressure gross margins," the agency said, noting that the ratings also take into account Kroger's merger with Harris Teeter.

Fitch said it views the addition of Harris Teeter as neutral to moderately positive from a business perspective and believes the risks associated with integrating the chain into Kroger's network are manageable.

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