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Retail

Kroger Jumps After Profit Tops Estimates

Kroger, the biggest US grocery-store chain, climbed the most in six years after surging same-store sales lifted fourth-quarter profit well above analysts’ estimates.

Net income rose 23 per cent to $518 million, or $1.04 a share, from $422 million, or 81 cents, a year earlier, the Cincinnati-based company said Thursday in a statement. Analysts had projected 90 cents on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Kroger also gave a full-year earnings forecast that topped analysts’ predictions.

Kroger is winning market share from rivals and benefiting from resurgence in retail spending by Americans. Chief executive officer Rodney McMullen, who took the reins last year, also has been integrating the Harris Teeter acquisition and adding workers to meet demand. The company said it created almost 25,000 jobs last year.

“We have a great strong core business that we expect to carry us into 2015,” chief financial officer Mike Schlotman told Bloomberg Television’s Betty Liu on Thursday. “Our undying focus on the customer we believe is what’s going to continue to deliver for us in the future.”

Kroger rose 6.7 per cent to $74.31 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since March 2009. The stock has added 16 per cent this year.

Kroger runs more than 2,600 supermarkets in 34 states, including the Fred Meyer, Ralphs and Fry’s chains. The company, which has almost 400,000 employees, also operates convenience stores and food-processing plants.

Bloomberg News, edited by ESM

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