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      Kroger sticks to guidance amid uncertainty

      Kroger Co. leaders see some signs of economic improvement, but not enough to increase their earnings projections for the year.

      They told an investors conference near Cincinnati Wednesday that they are sticking to guidance for earnings of $1.60 to $1.80 per share. Analysts expect $1.78.

      Kroger's chief financial officer, Mike Schlotman, said some analysts ask why the grocery chain hasn't raised guidance after a solid second quarter.

      He says Kroger hopes to reach the upper half of its range. But he says while Kroger sees the economy getting better, it isn't robust and remains uncertain.

      Kroger CEO David Dillon cited improving sales in wines, high-end deli meats and natural foods, but noted continued high unemployment and food-stamp use that has doubled since the recession began.

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