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Kroger reports Q4 identical sales growth

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CINCINNATI Kroger today reported total sales increased 2.2 percent to $17.2 billion for the fourth quarter ended Feb. 2. Adjusting for the extra week in the fourth quarter of the previous year, total sales increased 10.2 percent.

Identical supermarket sales increased 5.3 percent without fuel, based on the same 12-week period in both years.

"As Kroger's strong fourth quarter results show, we continue to drive solid identical sales growth by improving service, value, product quality and selection for our customers," said David Dillon, Kroger chairman and chief operating officer. "During the quarter, we continued to invest in lower prices for our customers, providing meaningful savings for them in this uncertain economic environment."

Net earnings in the fourth quarter totaled $322.9 million, or 48 cents per diluted share. Net earnings in the same period last year were $384.8 million, or 54 cents per diluted share.

For the full 2007 fiscal year, total sales increased 6.2 percent to $70.2 billion. Adjusting for the extra week in fiscal 2006, total sales increased 8.2 percent. Identical supermarket sales increased 5.3 percent without fuel, based on the same 52-week period in both years.

Net earnings for fiscal 2007 were $1.18 billion, or $1.69 per diluted share. This equates to 15 percent growth after adjusting for the extra week in fiscal 2006.

For fiscal 2008, Kroger anticipates earnings of $1.83 to $1.90 per diluted share. The company said it expects that earnings per share growth will be driven by strong identical sales, a slight improvement in non-fuel operating margins, and fewer shares outstanding. Identical supermarket sales growth is expected to be in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent, excluding fuel sales.

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