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Kroger 1Q results beat analysts' expectations; lifts fiscal 2014 adjusted profit forecast

CINCINNATI - Kroger saw a 4 per cent jump in first-quarter profit and the nation's biggest supermarket raised its earnings forecast for the year.

Shares rose more than 5 per cent in morning trading Thursday to an all-time high.

The Cincinnati company — which also runs Ralphs, Fry's and other chains — earned $501 million, or 98 cents per share, for the quarter. That compares with $481 million, or 92 cents per share, a year ago.

Removing non-recurring charges, The Kroger Co. earned $1.09 per share, four cents better than analysts polled by FactSet had been projecting.

Revenue jumped 10 per cent to $32.96 billion, which also edged out expectations due in part due to a new acquisition, the grocer and pharmacy Harris Teeter.

Sales at established locations climbed 4.6 per cent, excluding fuel. Those comparable-stores sales can be a key indicator of a retailer's health because it excludes volatility from locations recently opened or closed.

Kroger now foresees fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings between $3.19 and $3.27 per share. Previously it predicted $3.14 to $3.25 per share.

The company also increased its full-year guidance for sales at established locations, excluding fuel. It now anticipates 3 per cent to 4 per cent growth. Its prior outlook was for a 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent increase.

Shares reached $50.20 in early trading, which is a new high.

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