NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Kroger ( KR) reported a 27% fourth-quarter and full-year forecast that could fall below Wall Street's consensus.

During the quarter, Kroger earned $255.4 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with $349.2 million, or 54 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts expected the grocer to earn 34 cents a share.

Kroger sales jumped 7% to $18.55 billion from $17.31 billion, while same-store sales rose 1.2%.

Looking ahead, Kroger expects full-year earnings in the range of $1.60 to $1.80 a share, and sales growth of between 2% and 3%. Wall Street is looking for earnings of $1.79 a share from Kroger.

Kroger's cautious outlook is due to several factors that weighed down its business during the second half of 2009 that the company said will continue in the first half of 2010; inflation or deflation in product, operating costs, fluctuating fuel margins and the pace of the economic recovery are all uncertain, Kroger said.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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