Whole Foods Profit Tops Street, Sales Hold Up

Retail Reuters

Upscale grocer Whole Foods Market Inc reported quarterly profit that topped Wall Street's view after sales at established stores defied a softening U.S. economy, and its shares surged 11 percent in an after-hours relief rally.

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Investors had worried that Whole Foods' industry-leading sales at established stores would cool, especially after top-performing restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill flagged a slowing at its restaurants open at least 13 months.

Shares in Whole Foods had been down almost 7 percent since Chipotle reported earnings on July 19.

Net income at Whole Foods grew to $116.8 million, or 63 cents per share, for its fiscal third quarter that ended July 1, from $88.5 million, or 50 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 61 cents per share in the latest quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Same-store sales at Whole Foods, the biggest U.S. grocery chain that focuses on organic and natural food products, were up 8.2 percent -- roughly in line with the 8.4 percent gain analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters data.

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Total sales for the quarter rose almost 14 percent to $2.7 billion.

Based on the third quarter beat, Whole Foods raised its full-year earnings forecast to a range of $2.51 to $2.52 per share, up from $2.44 to $2.47 per share previously.

Shares of Whole Foods jumped to $94 from their close of $84.53.