UPDATE 1-United Natural Q4 sales beats; gives strong FY outlook

Wed Sep 8, 2010 8:46am EDT

* Q4 EPS $0.40 in line with est.

* Sales $988.5 mln beats est. $946.6 mln

* Sees FY EPS $1.74-$1.83 vs est. $1.81

* FY sales view $4.35-$4.45 bln vs est $4.14 bln

Sept 8 (Reuters) - United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI.O) posted higher-than-expected sales for the fourth consecutive quarter, helped by sales from new business wins and its Canadian acquisition, and gave a full-year revenue outlook well above analysts' expectations.

Net sales rose 15.8 percent to $988.5 million in the quarter ended July 31, while analysts on average had expected revenue of $946.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. [ID:nASA00PQC]

Despite the big beat on sales, a slight fall in gross margins meant the company could only meet the market's quarterly profit expectations.

United Natural, which distributes more than 60,000 products to about 23,000 locations in the United States and Canada, recorded sales of $22.1 million related to its acquisition of the Canadian food distribution assets of a unit of SunOpta Inc (SOY.TO).

For the fourth quarter ended July 31, net income was $17.6 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with $15.5 million, or 36 cents a share, a year ago.

Shares of the Dayville, Connecticut-based company closed at $35.39 Tuesday on Nasdaq. They have risen 8 percent since the company reported strong third-quarter resutls in early June. (Reporting by Mihir Dalal in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)

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