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Kroger’s new approach to stocking shelves is boosting its earnings

Shares of Kroger Co. surged Thursday after the company topped Wall Street expectations and gave an upbeat outlook.

The grocery store has been making more investments in online offerings while shedding more traditional convenience stores in an effort to become more competitive. Earlier this year it sold its convenience store unit for $2.15 billion and then went on to increase its investment in British online grocer Ocado.

Kroger has invested more than $53 million in its regional presence in recent years. It has 44 supermarkets, 12 locations with ClickList services and another 10 locations with Starbucks services. The popular grocer employs more than 8,100 associates in the Dayton region.

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It also bought meal-kit seller Home Chef as competitors including Albertsons and Amazon also expand into that market.

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The stock gained $2.90, or 11 percent, to $29.12 in premarket trading.

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The Cincinnati company’s profit surged to $2.03 billion, or $2.37 per share, mainly on the sale of its convenience store unit. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to 73 cents per share.

Revenue rose 3.4 percent to $37.53 billion.

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Analysts expected profit of 63 cents per share and revenue of $37.21 billion.

Other key figures include a 66 percent boost in digital sales and a 1.9 percent boost in same store sales, topping expectations for 1.5 percent growth.

The company tightened guidance and now expects between $2 and $2.15 per share in profit for the year. The low end of the range had been $1.95 per share.

Kroger shares have dropped nearly 5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 3.5 percent. The stock has risen 17 percent in the last 12 months.

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