* Sandy-related store closures slow same-store sales
* Shares down 2 percent
(Adds executive comment; updates shares)
Nov 7 Whole Foods Market Inc, the
largest U.S. natural and organic grocery chain, on Wednesday
reported a profit rise in line with forecasts but said
Superstorm Sandy has dragged sales this quarter, which sent its
shares down 2 percent after hours.
The company reiterated profit and sales forecasts for 2013
and declared a 43 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to
20 cents per share.
Whole Foods said same-store sales, hit by Sandy-related
store closures in the Northeast, were up 7.3 percent so far in
the current quarter, slower growth than 8.5 percent in the
"Given many customers were without power and, thus, their
shopping patterns were disrupted, we have not yet seen a full
return to normal in these regions," John Mackey, co-founder and
co-chief executive, told analysts on a conference call.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods said net income for its
fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to $112.7 million, or
60 cents per share, from $75.5 million, or 42 cents per share, a
year earlier, when there was one fewer week in the quarter.
The result was in line with estimates. Analysts on average
had expected a profit of 60 cents per share, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total sales for the quarter jumped 24 percent to $2.9
billion, helped by the extra week, an increase in transactions
and shoppers' continued shift toward organic products and other
Whole Foods repeated its 2013 earnings forecast of $2.83 to
$2.87 per share on same-store sales growth of 6.5 to 8.5
percent. It expects to record a one-time charge in the first
quarter for estimated uninsured losses from Sandy.
Whole Foods shares, which closed at $95.93 on Nasdaq, fell
to $94.05 in extended trading.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Richard
Chang and Alden Bentley)