CINCINNATI -- Kroger here last week said its sales trends were improving, its cost-cutting initiatives were on track, and it has begun channeling the proceeds from those efficiencies into targeted price reductions. In a conference call discussing its first-quarter earnings last week, Joseph A. Pichler, chairman and chief executive, cheered analysts with his projection that second-quarter, same-store supermarket sales would exceed the 0.6% increase the company reported in the first quarter, ...

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