NEW YORK (
posted a first-quarter decline as costs rose.
Still the grocery chain managed to beat Wall Street's estimates, earning $373.7 million, or 58 cents a share, from $435.1 million, or 66 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts were calling for earnings of 54 cents a share for Kroger.
Kroger sales jumped nearly 9% to $24.8 billion, with a boost from gasoline sales. Identical grocery store sales gained 2.4% during the quarter.
The company reaffirmed its full-year outlook of $1.60 to $1.80 a share.
Kroger gave investors hope that traditional grocers can hold their own against growing competition from discounter
. Food and other grocery items accounted for 50% of Wal-Mart's sales in 2009.
The discount bohemoth also announced last month that it was expanding its roll-backs to grocery items.
Shares of Kroger jumped 4.8% to $21.05 in early morning trading Thursday and pulled up the stocks of rival grocers.
is gaining 1.4% to $21.58, while
is rising 2.6% to $12.81.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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