Kroger Co. shares soared 8.9% in Thursday premarket trading after the grocer reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations and raised the low end of its guidance. Net income for the quarter totaled $2.03 billion, or $2.37 per share, up from $303.0 million, or 32 cents per share, for the same period last year. The gain includes the sale of the convenience store business, which added $1.59 per share. Adjusted EPS was 73 cents. Revenue was $37.5 billion, up from $36.3 billion last year. The FactSet consensus was for EPS of 63 cents and sales of $37.3 billion. Same-store sales excluding fuel rose 1.4%, while same-store sales including specialty pharmacy but excluding fuel rose 1.9%. The FactSet consensus was for 1.5% growth. Kroger expects 2018 same-store sales growth excluding fuel to range from growth of 2% to 2.5%, ahead of the FactSet consensus for 1.9% growth. And it raised the low end of its earnings guidance to a range of $3.64 to $3.79 from $3.59 to $3.79. Adjusted EPS is now expected to be in the range of $2.00 to $2.15, up from $1.95 to $2.15. The FactSet consensus is $2.75. Kroger shares are down 4.6% for the year to date, but up 17% for the past year. The S&P 500 index is up 3.5% for 2018 to date.