Unpacking the Seismic Kroger, Albertsons Merger

Options traders are blasting KR and ACI this morning

Managing Editor
Oct 14, 2022 at 10:47 AM
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The grocery world has been upended. Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) confirmed the Thursday night rumors this morning, announcing a $24.6 billion deal with Albertsons Companies Inc (NYSE:ACI). KR will acquire ACI for $34.10 per share. Should the deal go through -- given the antitrust scrutiny it will draw -- it will form one of the largest grocery chains in the country.

In turn, Moody's Investor Service is scrambling, changing Kroger's outlook to negative while placing Albertsons' under review. Kroger's CFO is hoping to achieve $1 billion of annual run rate synergies from the deal, and noted the company is complying with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to gain approval. For some context on just how big this acquisition is, Cincinnati-based Kroger runs over 2,700 stores under various banners, while Albertson's operates more than 2,200. 

At last check, Kroger stock was down 3.6% to trade at $44.86, on the verge of ceding its year-to-date breakeven level. While the shares are up 17.4% year-over-year, KR is still a far cry from their April 8 record high of $62.78. 

ACI was last seen down 6.6% at $26.76 -- a bit of a shock considering the equity was 11% higher premarket. The stock gapped 11.5% higher yesterday when rumors of the deal first broke, but the rally stopped short of its 200-day moving average. Year-to-date, the security is down 10.7%.

Options traders are having a field day. So far, over 30,000 KR contracts have changed hands, volume that's three times the average intraday amount. The weekly 45.50-strike call, expiring today, is the most popular, with new positions being opened. ACI options, meanwhile, are running at 14 times the average intraday clip, with the November 30 call seeing the most action.


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