CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. here said operating earnings increased 25.7% in the fourth quarter, which exceeded Wall Street's expectations and helped boost Kroger's stock above $24 per share for the first time in a year. Operating earnings, or earnings before an extraordinary item of $3.8 million related to debt retirement, totaled $86.5 million in the 12-week quarter. This compared with operating earnings of $68.8 million in last year's 13-week fourth quarter. Sales totaled $5.4 billion in ...

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