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 4.2%. “We were very pleased with the results in the first quarter,” David Dillon, Kroger’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We exceeded our expectations, and as a result raised our earnings per share guidance for the year.”
Kroger said it now expects earnings for the fiscal year of $2.33 to $2.40 per share, up from previous estimates of $2.28 to $2.38. The company also announced a $1 billion stock buyback Thursday.