Whole Foods fourth-quarter profit tops expectations; dividend raised by a penny

Whole Foods reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street expectations and shares of the organic and natural grocery chain rose.

The company said Wednesday that sales rose 3.1 percent at established locations during its fiscal fourth quarter, which ran through Sept. 28. Looking ahead to its next fiscal year, it said it expects the figure to rise in the low- to mid-single digits.

As traditional supermarkets and big-box retailers muscle into the organic category, Whole Foods' sales have slowed and it has been fighting to more sharply define what sets it apart.

For the quarter, Whole Foods Market Inc. earned $128 million, or 35 cents per share, topping the 32 cents per share analysts expected, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose to $3.26 billion, in line with Wall Street expectations.

It also hiked its dividend by a penny to 13 cents.

Shares of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods rose 8 percent to $43.05 in aftermarket trading.