Strong identical store sales helped propel The Kroger Co. to a Wall Street beat in the first quarter as the company continues expanding its digital operations.
Company net earnings were $664 million, or 90 cents per diluted share, versus $140 million, or 18 cents per diluted share, in the year-before quarter.
Adjusted for one-time events, company net earnings were $1.07 billion, or $1.45 per diluted share, versus $918 million, $1.19 per diluted share, in the year-previous quarter, the company reported.
Kroger topped a Yahoo Financed-published analyst consensus adjusted diluted earnings per share estimate of $1.30 and a sales estimate of $44.35 billion.
Identical sales, without fuel revenues included, increased 4.1%, Kroger reported, as Fresh Department identical sales increased 5.2%, and Our Brands identical sales increased 6.3% in the quarter year over year.
As the company continues to expand its Ocado-designed automated warehouse and delivery capacity, digitally engaged households increased by more than half a million and digital coupon downloads increased 11% in the quarter year over year, Kroger noted.
Total company sales were $44.6 billion in the first quarter, compared to $41.3 billion for the same period a year earlier. Operating profit was $1.51 billion versus $805 million in the year-prior quarter while adjusted operating profit was $1.6 billion versus $1.38 billion.
In announcing the financial results, Kroger chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said, “Kroger achieved strong first quarter results as we successfully executed on our strategy of Leading with Fresh and Accelerating with Digital. We are incredibly proud of our associates who continue to put the customer at the center of everything we do. Our team is doing an outstanding job managing costs in an inflationary environment, which is allowing us to continue to invest in our associates while providing our customers the freshest food at affordable prices when and where they need it. We are delivering everyday value through personalized experiences, trusted Our Brands products, data-driven promotions and seamless e-commerce solutions.”