NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Kroger Co (KR) were rising, up 1.43% to $73.95 in mid-morning trading Thursday, after the grocery chain operator reported better than expected first quarter profit this morning.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer, Portfolio Manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio says, "These guys are firing on all cylinders. They have almost twice the growth of a Whole Foods (WFM) with a much lower price to earnings multiple."
"While the stock's had a big move, it is still relatively inexpensive. Their natural and organic initiatives, as well as their private label products, have driven sales and earnings and the company is the best operator in the business," Cramer added.
The company's earnings beat reflected improved operating margins and sales growth. Still, quarterly revenue slightly missed analysts' estimates.
For the first quarter, the grocery retailer earned $1.25 per share on revenue of $33.05 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $1.22 per share on revenue of $33.34 billion for the quarter.
"We are managing through a volatile operating environment, with fuel margins normalizing compared to last year's record highs, inflation in some commodities and deflation in others," Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement.
Looking ahead, the company kept its earnings forecast for 2015, but increased its annual comparable sales guidance.
For fiscal year 2015, Kroger expects earnings in a range of between $3.80 to $3.90 per share, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.87 per share.