Kroger's quarterly sales rise 4.5%


(Reuters) - Kroger Co (NYSE:KR), the biggest U.S. supermarket chain, reported higher-than-expected quarterly sales and profit on Thursday as its aggressive discounting lured more customers to its stores.

Shares of the Cincinnati-based company rose 4.1 percent to $25.40 in premarket trading. The company's stock has declined nearly 30 percent so far this year.

Closely watched sales at stores open at least 12 months, excluding fuel, rose 1.1 percent, beating analysts' average estimate of a 0.9 percent growth, according to Consensus Metrix.

The supermarket owner whose chains include Ralphs, Harris Teeter and Food 4 Less, with nearly 2,800 outlets nationwide, has been lowering prices and exploring new ways to sell food as it battles rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT), discounters Lidl and Aldi, and the newly merged Inc (NADSAQ:AMZN) and Whole Foods Market.

Total revenue rose 4.5 percent to $27.75 billion. Analysts on average had expected $27.46 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net earnings attributable to Kroger rose to $397 million, or 44 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Nov. 4, from $391 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had estimated earnings of 40 cents per share.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)