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Signage is displayed on a shopping cart at a Kroger Co. supermarket in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Kroger stock surged 9.5% last year, a decent gain, but it lagged the 16.3% rise in the S&P 500 index, a broad measure of the market.

As 2020 ticked down, Ronald Sargent, a director of the supermarket chain, bought Kroger (ticker: KR) stock on the open market. Sargent’s stock purchase was the only one made by a Kroger insider in 2020.

In early December, Kroger disclosed disappointing third-quarter revenue, although earnings were still higher than expected. Management issued upbeat financial forecasts, but the stock still fell.

Sargent paid $101,280 on Dec. 30 for 3,200 Kroger shares, a per-share average price of $31.65. According to a form he filed with the Security and Exchange Commission, the former Staples Chairman and CEO now owns 116,520 Kroger shares.

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Kroger didn’t make Sargent, a director since 2008, available for comment.

Not only was his Kroger stock purchase the lone such transaction in 2020, it is the first by a Kroger executive or director since July 2019, when he paid $107,400 for 5,000 Kroger shares, an average price of $21.49 each

Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow wrote in a Dec. 4 note that Kroger stock fell after the latest earnings report “because the market had anticipated a stronger benefit from pantry-loading in response to rising Covid cases.” Moscow lowered his price target on Kroger stock to $34 from $36, and kept a Neutral rating.

Moskow added that Kroger could see weaker performance “when consumers regain full mobility.”

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin