Leading US grocery chain Kroger Co. (KR) recently boosted its quarterly dividend by 5.6% to 9.5 cents a share from 9 cents. This is the third dividend increase since the inception of the company’s dividend program in fiscal 2006.

Kroger declared a quarterly dividend of 6.5 cents a share in 2006. The next year, it raised its payout to 7.5 cents and again to 9 cents in fiscal year 2008.

The dividend is payable on Dec. 1 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 16. Kroger has been able to augment shareholders’ return by over 1.5% on a yearly basis through its dividend program.

Earlier, Kroger reported lower-than-expected second-quarter results amid a crumbling economy, beleaguered by rising unemployment and weak consumer trends.

Kroger’s quarterly earnings, which came in at 39 cents a share, missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 43 cents and dropped 7.1% year over year. Total revenue fell 2% to $17,735.4 million. The company also trimmed its full-year earnings guidance to a range of $1.90 to $2 per share, down from its prior view of $2 to $2.05 a share.

Kroger runs 2,470 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under local banners, which include Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry’s, King Soopers, Smith’s, Dillons, QFC and City Market. It also operates 768 convenience stores, 388 fine jewelry stores, 818 supermarket fuel centers and 40 food-processing plants.

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