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Cincinnati -- The Kroger Company reported better-than-expected net income of $481 million during the first quarter of this year, up nearly 10% from $439 million in the first quarter of 2012. The company also raised its forecast for annual earnings.
Total sales increased 3.4% from $29.1 billion to $30 billion and a 3.3% increase in same-store sales beat analyst projections of a 2.8% increase.
Based on the first quarter results, the company increased its net earnings guidance to a range of $2.73 to $2.80 per diluted share for fiscal 2013. The original guidance was $2.71 to $2.79 per diluted share. The company's long term growth rate guidance is 8% to 11%, plus a growing dividend.
Kroger continues to expect identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of approximately 2.5% to 3.5% for fiscal year 2013.
"Kroger achieved strong sales and record earnings per share for the quarter, and our customers' positive view of us continues to improve," said David B. Dillon, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "This is because of our continued focus on the customer first strategy. Our first quarter results give us the confidence to raise our guidance for the year."