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Kroger off to strong start with positive Q1

CINCINNATI — Kroger reported solid first-quarter results and marked 30 consecutive quarters in which identical-store sales increased, the supermarket retailer announced Thursday.

Kroger said that identical-store sales rose 4.6%, excluding fuel, to about $20.8 billion. Identical stores are defined as supermarkets open at least five quarters.

The company said its first-quarter revenue for the period ended May 21, including fuel, rose 11% to about $27.5 billion, compared with the year-ago period. Excluding fuel, total sales were 4.8% above last year.

Net earnings for Kroger increased to 70 cents per diluted share, compared with 58 cents per diluted share in first quarter 2010.

Looking ahead, Kroger said that it expects identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, to range from 3.5% to 4.5% for the year. The previous guidance range was 3% to 4%. For the full year, Kroger increased its earnings guidance to $1.85 to $1.95 per diluted share.

"Our Customer 1st strategy is clearly connecting with customers," Kroger chairman and CEO David Dillon said. "We have shown that our focus on people, products, prices and the shopping experience is meaningful to customers through both good and challenging times. As a result, we achieved strong performance across the company.

"Our guidance for the year reflects the balance we strive to achieve across our business — including strong identical sales growth and outstanding cost control, as well as increased earnings and earnings per share," Dillon added. "Our Customer 1st strategy will drive increased sales, cash flow and earnings growth well into the future."

Kroger will hold its annual shareholders meeting on June 23.

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