Kroger Raises Profit Forecast as Sales Surge; Shares Advance

Kroger Co. (KR), the largest U.S. grocery chain, raised its full-year profit forecast after sales surged last quarter, pushing the shares up the most since October 2009.

Earnings will be as much as $1.95 a share, Cincinnati-based Kroger said today in a statement. That compares with a previous forecast of up to $1.92. Analysts on average anticipate $1.90, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Total sales surged 11 percent to $27.5 billion in the first quarter, bolstered by fuel sales. Kroger, led by Chief Executive Officer David Dillon, is raising prices to help compensate for increasing costs for food and gas. The grocer is vying with discount chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Target Corp. (TGT) for budget-wary shoppers.

The shares advanced $1.04, or 4.5 percent, to $23.99 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The gain was the largest since Oct. 15, 2009.

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