Gas, Food Sales Push Kroger Profit Up

Cincinnati Kroger Co. announced Tuesday that, aided by gas and food discounting, its profits exceeded company and Wall Street expectations for the fiscal first quarter. A sales boost accompanied the better-than-expected quarterly profit.

The country’s largest grocery chain posted a fiscal first-quarter profit increase of 15%, or $386.0 million, compared with a profit of $336.6 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Same-store sales were up 5.8%, excluding fuel.

Total sales for the company, which operates Kroger, Fred Meyer and Ralphs grocery stores, as well as the Littman and Barclay jewelry chains, rose 11.5% to $23.11 billion.

During the quarter, Kroger allowed customers to exchange their tax refund or economic stimulus checks for a Kroger gift card with an extra $30, $60 or $120 added to it.

The grocery chain also rolled out a $4 generic drug promotion similar to that of Wal-Mart Stores.