CINCINNATI — Although unruly swings in commodity prices and general consumer uncertainty played havoc with the numbers, officials of Kroger Co. here were bullish on first-quarter financial results the retailer posted last week. Net earnings of $435.1 million were slightly higher, and comparable-store sales of 3.1% a bit lower, than analysts expected for the period, which ended May 23. But company officials spent considerable time in a conference call explaining why the latter figure ...

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