(Corrects analysts' estimate to $30.2 billion in second
By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian
June 20 Kroger Co, the biggest U.S.
supermarket operator, reported higher first-quarter profit on
Thursday and raised its forecast for the year, citing strong
Total sales, including fuel, increased 3.4 percent to $30
billion in the latest quarter, but missed analysts' estimates of
Net income rose to $481 million, or 92 cents per share, from
$439 million, or 78 cents, a year earlier. Earnings per share
hit a record for the first quarter and beat analysts'
expectations of 88 cents by 4 cents.
A Planet Retail analyst expected Kroger, the
Cincinnati-based company that also owns the Ralphs, Smith's and
Food 4 Less chains, to outperform its competitors as well as
large retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Target Corp
that sell groceries and gain market share throughout the
Kroger shares fell 1.6 percent to $34.56 in early trading as
the broader market slumped. On Wednesday, the stock hit a
52-week high of $35.63.
Total sales including fuel increased 3.8 percent in the same
period last year.
Excluding fuel, identical-supermarket sales rose to $22.4
million from $21.7 million in 2012.
Identical-supermarket sales are a measure of a grocer's
performance because they track stores that have remained open
without expansion or relocation for five full quarters.
Kroger now expects an annual profit of $2.73 per share to
$2.80 per share, up from an earlier forecast of $2.71 to $2.79.
(Reporting By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian; Editing by Gerald E.
McCormick and Jeffrey Benkoe)