What happened

Shares of SpartanNash (NASDAQ:SPTN) rose this morning, with gains of as much as 11% before closing roughly flat for the day, after the company reported first-quarter earnings. The grocery wholesaler and retailer easily beat expectations as grocery demand remains strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

So what

Revenue in the first quarter increased 12% to $2.86 billion, ahead of the $2.62 billion in sales that analysts were modeling for. That resulted in adjusted earnings per share of $0.67, topping the $0.47 per share in adjusted profits that Wall Street was expecting. Retail comparable-store sales growth accelerated meaningfully to 16% due to the coronavirus pandemic. SpartanNash estimates that $0.38 of adjusted earnings per share was driven by increased consumer demand related to the crisis as people stocked up on food and other consumer staples.

Man wearing a face mask while shopping at a grocery store

Image source: Getty Images.

"Our number one priority continues to be the wellbeing and safety of our entire team, particularly those on the frontlines, who have been driving our business forward every day," interim CEO Dennis Eidson said in a statement. "Our ability to respond to unprecedented consumer demand during the quarter enabled us to significantly exceed our expectations for the quarter and we are raising our annual outlook to reflect our strong first quarter execution in a challenging and evolving environment."

Now what

SpartanNash boosted its guidance for the year, with adjusted earnings per share now expected in the range of $1.85 to $2, up from a previous forecast of $1.12 to $1.20. Adjusted EBITDA for 2020 should be $205 million to $215 million, compared to the previous outlook of $180 million to $190 million.

The company continues to search for a permanent CEO following the resignation of Dave Staples last year.