Fresh Market cuts 2013 earnings forecast again, shares slump

Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:43pm EST

* Cuts 2013 earnings/share forecast to $1.42-$1.47 from $1.50-$1.55

* Third-quarter earnings/share $0.23 vs est $0.26

* Revenue rises 13 pct to $364.5 mln vs est $373.8 mln

* Shares fall as much as 15 pct after market

Nov 21 (Reuters) - Specialty grocery retailer Fresh Market Inc cut its 2013 earnings forecast for the second time as it battles a weak U.S. consumer spending environment, sending its shares down as much as 16 percent after the bell.

The company, which competes with Whole Foods Market Inc and Safeway Inc, said sales slowed in the latter part of its third quarter due to weak U.S. consumer confidence.

CFO Jeff Ackerman said this trend was expected to continue through the fourth quarter.

"The primary driver for the adjustment in guidance is really the top line ... we are expecting a lower comparable sales rate for the balance of the year," Ackerman said on a call.

Fresh Market said it expects earnings of $1.42-$1.47 per share in 2013, down from $1.50-$1.55 per share. Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.53, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Constrained U.S. consumer spending has hit many retailers' results, with companies such as Dollar Tree Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Sears Holdings Corp posting disappointing sales in their most recent quarters.

Fresh Market said its net income rose to $11.1 million, or 23 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Oct. 27, from $10.9 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of 26 cents per share.

Sales rose 13 percent to $364.5 million, missing the average analyst estimate of $373.8 million.

Comparable store sales rose 3.1 percent in the quarter.

Fresh Market shares were down 15 percent at $43.00 after the bell. (Reporting By Maria Ajit Thomas in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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