Whole Foods quarterly profit up; same-store sales growth slowing

Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:42pm EDT

(Reuters) - Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O) on Wednesday posted third-quarter profit that beat Wall Street's view, but said the growth rate for closely watched same-store sales has slowed in the current quarter, and its shares fell 3 percent.

Expectations were high ahead of the report and the company delivered on forecasts that it would modestly raise its full-year profit outlook. The upscale grocer's sales trends tend to mirror those of Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O), which reported surprisingly strong results for the latest quarter.

Same-store sales, a key gauge of performance for retailers, jumped 7.5 percent for the quarter ended July 7.

In the current fiscal fourth quarter, same-store sales are up a less robust 5.8 percent.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, the largest U.S. natural and organic grocery chain, said third-quarter net income increased 21 percent to $142 million, or 38 cents per share - a penny better than the average estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Whole Foods' new full-year forecast calls for earnings of $1.45 to $1.46 per share, compared with $1.43 to $1.45 per share, previously.

The company's shares were down $1.68 at $53.90 in extended trading.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr)