CINCINNATI — Kroger Co. here on Thursday reported earnings that exceeded analyst estimates for the fiscal first quarter, and summarily increased earnings guidance for the fiscal year. Net earnings of $439.4 million, or 78 cents a share, exceeded consensus estimates of 72 cents; the gain was driven in part by cost reductions and a lower tax rate. Sales increased 5.8% to $29.1 billion, which was slightly below analyst estimates. Excluding fuel, identical store sales climbed by ...

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