The Kroger Co.'s profit fell 27 percent in the fourth quarter, even as sales rose with a boost from the grocer's gasoline incentives for regular customers.
The nation's largest traditional grocery chain Tuesday reported profit of $255.4 million, or 39 cents per share, down from $349.2 million or 53 cents, a year ago.
Sales rose 7 percent to $18.6 billion. Excluding fuel, sales were up 2 percent.
Analysts expected 34 cents per share on $17.73 billion of revenue.
In the heated competition for recession-strapped households, Kroger has expanded discounts at its gas stations for regular customers, who can get at least 10 cents off a gallon for every $100 in grocery store purchases.
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