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Kroger Q1 Surprises As Sales Advance

Today, The Kroger Co. posted net earnings for the first quarter totaling $481 million, or 92 cents per diluted share, versus $439 million, or 78 cent per diluted share, for the period a year earlier. Identical supermarket sales, without the impact of fuel operations, gained 3.3% versus last year’s quarter, according to the retailer.

In a research note, Citi analyst Deborah Weinswig pointed out that earnings beat her 88 cents per diluted share estimate with better-than-expected identical store sales and gross margin contributing to the quarter’s strength.

First quarter total sales increased 3.4% to $30 billion, the company noted, while total sales excluding fuel increased 3.8% versus the period last year.  Operating profit, the company added, was $879 million versus $814 million in the 2012 quarter.

“Kroger achieved strong sales and record earnings per share for the quarter, and our customers’ positive view of us continues to improve,” said David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “This is because of our continued focus on the Customer First strategy.”