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June 20 (Reuters) - Kroger Co beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit and sales on Thursday, as the supermarket chain benefited from improved stores and a focus on faster delivery.
Under its "Restock Kroger" program, the company has been highlighting private label brand display, rearranging store layouts and expanding services such as home delivery and self checkouts.
The company has also invested in expanding its online business and improving its app. The initiatives powered a 42% jump in digital sales in the first-quarter ended May 25.
Kroger recorded gross margin of 22.22%, better than the average analysts' estimate of 21.74%, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Excluding one-time items, the company earned 72 cents per share, beating expectations of 71 cents.
Sales fell 1.2% to $37.25 billion, as Kroger operated fewer stores following the sales of its convenience store business.
Analysts had expected sales of $37.21 billion.
The Cincinnati-based company retained its full-year profit forecast. Shares were marginally lower in early trade. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Sriraj Kalluvila)