US supermarket group Kroger posted an increase in first-quarter earnings today (23 June) and reaffirmed its full-year guidance.

For the period to 23 May, net earnings totalled US$$435.1m compared with $386m in the same period last year.

Total sales, however, dropped slightly in the quarter to $22.8bn from $23.1bn in the comparable period of 2008.

During the quarter, the average retail price for a gallon of gas sold at Kroger’s fuel outlets was 41% lower than it was in the first quarter last year.

Identical-supermarket sales, excluding fuel, rose 3.1%, and Kroger said it still expected an increase of 3-4% on that basis for the fiscal year.

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“Customers continue to look for value, and Kroger is helping them save money by offering a unique combination of products and services no other competitor can match. As a result of this approach, we continue to generate solid, consistent results for shareholders,” said David Dillon, Kroger chairman and CEO.

Kroger confirmed its full-year 2009 earnings outlook of $2.00 to $2.05 per diluted share.

“We are investing in Kroger’s long-term growth as we work to emerge in an even stronger position as the economy recovers,” Dillon said.