Kroger Co. (KR) said Thursday that third-quarter profit increased to $316.5 million, or 60 cents per share, from $195.9 million, or 33 cents per share in the same quarter last year. Excluding a 14-cent-per-share special gain, earnings tallied 46 cents per share, ahead of Wall Street expectations of 43 cents per share.
Sales during the third quarter at the nation’s largest supermarket chain climbed from $20.59 billion in 2011 to $$21.81 billion this year. Analysts were predicting revenue of $21.50 billion.
Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger, which operates its namesake stores as well as Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer and Dillion’s, said that same-store sales rose 3.2 percent in Q3 versus last year. Same-store sales, a measure of performance for stores opened at least one year, are viewed as a key barometer of performance.
Meanwhile, Kroger also raised its outlook for its full year earnings. Excluding special items, the company anticipates earnings between $2.44 to $2.46 a share for the full year, up from a previous estimate of $2.35 to $2.42 a share. A consensus of analysts expected Kroger to earn $2.41 per share for the year.
Shares of KR are tracking higher Thursday morning on the better-than-expected earnings news. On the year, shares have risen about 10 percent with today’s action. Kroger has managed to log gains on the year while large rivals Supervalu and Safeway have fallen 65% and 16%, respectively.