Kroger (KR) swung to a profit and trumped Wall Street expectations in the fourth quarter as sales at its more established grocery stores ticked up for the 37th consecutive period and its bottom line benefited from an accounting-related credit.

The Cincinnati-based supermarket operator reported net earnings of $461.5 million, or 88 cents a share, compared with a year earlier loss of $306.9 million, or 54 cents.

Excluding one-time items, Kroger said it earned 77 cents, topping average analyst estimates of 70 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue for the three months ended Feb. 2 climbed 12.8% to $24.15 billion from $21.4 billion a year ago, narrowly beating the Street’s view of $24 billion. Same-store sales, a key measurement of sales at stores open longer than a year, increased 3.5%.

“Our associates delivered an outstanding year that underscores how our growing connection with customers remains the key to shareholder value creation," said Kroger CEO David Dillon.

Shares of Kroger were up more than 2% in recent trade.

For the current fiscal year, Kroger sees earnings in the range of $2.71 to $2.79 a share, above the consensus view of $2.64. The nation’s largest supermarket operator anticipates same-store sales growth of 2.5% to 3.5% in 2013.

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