Retail grocery category leader The Kroger Co. has raised its guidance for 2018 following its first quarter financial report.

Cincinnati-based Kroger raised the low end of its net earnings guidance range from $3.59 to $3.64 and the low end of its adjusted net earnings guidance range from $1.95 to $2.

The company expects its identical sales growth excluding fuel to range from 2 to 2.5 percent in 2018.

In the 2018 first quarter report, Kroger announced a total sales increase of 3.4 percent to $37.5 billion. Net earnings were $2 billion, or $2.37 per diluted share, and adjusted net earnings were $626 million, or $.73 per diluted share. Identical supermarket sales without fuel rose 1.4 percent in the quarter compared to the first quarter of 2017.

The success of the company’s Restock Kroger program helped drive gains in the quarter, says Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.

"Restock Kroger is off to a fantastic start. Kroger is creating the future of retail by innovating our core business and adding exciting partnerships like Ocado and our planned merger with Home Chef,” McMullen says. “We are on track to generate the free cash flow and incremental FIFO operating profit that we committed to in Restock Kroger. We are confident in our ability to deliver on our plans for the year and our long-term vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift."