Sprouts Farmers Market stock slides following 1st qtr report that fell short of expectations

IndustriesAssociated Press

Shares of Sprouts Farmers Market tumbled in premarket trading Friday, a day after the natural and organic food retailer reported first-quarter results that missed Wall Street expectations.

The retailer's sales from established stores also fell short of forecasts, Wedbush analyst Phil Terpolilli said in a research note.

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This is a widely-followed metric for retailers. It also excludes the potentially distorting impact of sales at recently opened or closed stores.

Sprouts said Thursday after markets closed that its first quarter earnings climbed 11 percent to $37.5 million. The adjusted, per-share result came to 25 cents per share. That missed average analyst expectations by two cents per share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

New stores helped revenue soar about 19 percent to $857.5 million, but that missed expectations as well.

The company said bad weather and the West Coast port strike, which limited product availability, were among the factors hurting its performance in the quarter. Plus it faced a comparison with a strong produce season in last year's quarter.

Terpolilli said the company's main focus on produce and value pricing in its stores remains sound, but increasing competition in some areas may hurt Sprouts in its push to turn customers just looking for produce into full-store shoppers.

Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. shares slid $2.64, or 8.7 percent to $27.57 about 30 minutes before markets opened Friday. The stock had already declined 11 percent so far this year as of Thursday's close.