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    Kroger Posts Gains in Q4, Year

    Cincinnati grocer buoyed by ‘Customer 1st’ strategy

    On the heels of closing on its merger with Harris Teeter on Jan. 28, The Kroger Co. has reported fourth-quarter sales of $23.2 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent from the year-ago period, excluding fuel. Kroger’s Q4 net earnings were $421.9 million, or $0.81 per diluted share.

    "Our associates' connection with customers fueled another year of market share growth and record earnings per share," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's CEO. "Kroger's Customer 1st strategy is a powerful foundation on which to continue growing and differentiating our business in 2014."

    Full Year Results

    For fiscal year 2013, Kroger reported total sales of $98.4 billion, an adjusted increase of 4.2 percent from the prior year, excluding fuel. Net earnings for the year totaled $1.52 billion, or $2.90 per diluted share, an increase of 13 percent, and identical sales growth, without fuel, of 3.6 percent.

    Kroger's strong financial position allowed the company to return more than $928 million to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends in 2013. During the fiscal year, Kroger repurchased 16.1 million common shares for a total investment of $609 million.

    The Year Ahead

    Full-year net earnings for fiscal 2014 are expected to range from $3.14 to $3.25 per diluted share. Including net earnings from the Harris Teeter merger of $0.06-$0.09 per diluted share -- and excluding transaction expenses -- Kroger anticipates a 10-14 percent growth rate for fiscal 2014 and an expected return to its long-term growth rate of 8-11 percent.

    Kroger also anticipates identical supermarket sales growth, excluding fuel, of about 2.5-3.5 percent for fiscal 2014, including Harris Teeter.

    "The remarkable consistency of Kroger's performance has shown time and again that serving our customers is serving our shareholders," McMullen added. "We are well positioned to continue delivering sustainable high performance that benefits our customers and shareholders today and in the future."

    Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's.

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