Shares of Whole Foods Market (WFMI) jumped nearly 6% in late trade when the company revealed a stronger-than-expected jump in second-quarter profit, fueled by heightened demand at its more established stores.
The Austin, Texas-based organic food chain posted net income of $89.9 million, or 51 cents a share, up 33% compared with $67.4 million, or 39 cents a share, in the same quarter last year, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 46 cents.
Revenue for the three weeks ended April 10 was $2.35 billion, up 11.6% from $2.1 billion a year ago, virtually matching the Street’s view of $2.37 billion. Sales were fueled by a 7.8% improvement in its comparable stores.
“These are the strongest overall results we have reported in the past five years,” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Our solid execution is generating consistent cash flow, and with our long-term debt now fully repaid, we are considering other uses for our growing cash balance, including accelerating our growth, raising our dividend and repurchasing stock.”
The company, which will start trading under the symbol WFM on Friday, repaid last quarter $200 million of its term loan and $17.3 million in dividends to shareholders. By the end of the period, Whole Foods had $721.2 million in total cash, cash equivalents and investments remaining, with total debt of $208.2 million.
Reflecting the strong performance, the supermarket chain raised its fiscal earnings view to the range of $1.87 to $1.90 a share, better than analysts’ latest forecast of $1.80.