Whole Foods Shares Fall After Company's Same-store Sales Decline

By Claudia Assis Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc. fell more than 3% late Wednesday after the Austin, Texas, grocery-store chain reported a higher-than-expected decline in same-store sales in the fiscal first quarter and tweaked its yearly outlook to brace against slower sales growth. Whole Foods said it earned $95 million, or 30 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $157 million, or 47 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for one-time items, Whole Foods earned $123 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with $157 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. Fiscal first-quarter results included a $34 million charge related to store and facility closures, and the company said it expects to incur an additional charge in the second quarter of approximately $30 million, or 6 cents a share, related to such closures. First-quarter revenue rose 1.9% to $4.92 billion, compared with $4.83 billion a year ago. Comparable-store sales fell 2.4%, the company said. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected adjusted earnings of 39 cents on sales of $4.98 billion. The company is "refining" its growth strategy to face an "increasingly competitive marketplace," CEO John Mackey said in a statement. Whole Foods also updated its outlook to reflect lower sales growth, saying it expects full-year earnings of $1.33 a share or greater. Last year it said it expected earnings of $1.42 or greater for the year.

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