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FILE - This June 12, 2012 file photo shows a Kroger store in Indianapolis. The Kroger Co. reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Kroger is reporting a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as the nation's largest supermarket operator saw a key sales figure rise.

The Cincinnati-based company, which also operates Ralphs and Fry's, has fared better than its peers in adapting to a shifting supermarket landscape that is undergoing consolidation. In particular, supermarkets are facing stiffer competition from big-box retailers, specialty chains and other players.

For the period ending Feb. 1, Kroger Co. said sales at established locations rose 4.3 percent, excluding fuel.

It earned $422 million, or 81 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, it earned 78 cents per share, topping the 72 cent per share Wall Street expected.

A year ago, it earned $462 million, or 88 cents per share.

Revenue came in at $23.22 billion, above the $23.15 billion analysts expected.

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