The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Publix Super Markets, JP Morgan Chase, Kroger and Supervalu

 The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Publix Super
                Markets, JP Morgan Chase, Kroger and Supervalu

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, March 7, 2013

CHICAGO, March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.
(NYSE:HTSI), Publix Super Markets Inc. (OTC:PUSH), JPMorgan Chase & Co.
(NYSE:JPM), Kroger Company (NYSE:KR) and Supervalu Inc. (NYSE:SVU).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

Publix Eyes Harris Teeter

Rumor has it that the grocery retailer Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc.
(NYSE:HTSI) is currently being eyed by Publix Super Markets Inc. (OTC:PUSH)
for a possible acquisition.

Harris Teeter, a $2 billion company employing 25,000 people confirmed on Feb
2013 that it was looking for a suitable bidder for all its assets. It also
declared that it had appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) as its
financial advisor in this matter. 

After the intention to sellout was declared, two other retail giants, namely
Kroger Company (NYSE:KR) and international supermarket operator Koninklijke
Ahold N.V. based in The Netherlands emerged as possible bidders.

Publix has long been the dominant supermarket in Florida, with 756 locations
but is proceeding northward with 179 locations in Georgia, 53 in Alabama, 47
in South Carolina and 34 in Tennessee. Publix is opening its first North
Carolina store next year and plans to expand. The takeover of Harris Teeter
will help increase its presence further north into Virginia and North
Carolina.

Currently, Harris Teeter operates a regional chain of supermarkets in eight
states mainly in southeastern and mid-Atlantic U.S. and the District of
Columbia.

In Jan 2013, Harris Teeter reported earnings per share of 46 cents per diluted
share, for its first fiscal quarter of 2013, down 13.2 % from 53 cents per
share reported a year ago. The grocery chain has been facing margin pressure
for some time due to increased competition.

Given the sluggish growth in the last few years, the company had slowed down
store openings and instead focused on renovating its existing stores.

However, slow recovery of the U.S. economy and apprehension about the fiscal
cliff hasresulted in consistently weak discretionary spending by consumers.

Harris Teeter is of course not alone. Most of the regional groceries are
seeing tough times in the U.S. and are either trimming down, or selling their
assets to equity firms. The grocery chain Supervalu Inc. (NYSE:SVU) has
decided to sell five of its supermarkets, which in combination amount to 877
individual stores. The sale of these supermarkets to private equity firm
Cerberus Capital Management LP for $3.3 billion is expected to improve its
margins.

Currently, Harris Teeter carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

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