AUSTIN, Texas, July 30, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq:WFM) today reported results for the 12-week third quarter ended July 6, 2014. For the quarter, total sales increased 10% to a record $3.4 billion. Comparable store sales increased 3.9%, including a positive impact of approximately 60 basis points from Easter shifting from the second quarter last year to the third quarter this year, on top of a 7.5% increase in the prior year. A spread of approximately 40 basis points between comparable store and identical store sales growth was due to three relocations and one expansion. Average weekly sales per store were $736,000, translating to another quarter of sales per gross square foot of over $1,000. Operating income was $243 million, or 7.2% of sales, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") were $331 million, or 9.8% of sales. Net income was $151 million, or 4.4% of sales, diluted earnings per share were $0.41, and return on invested capital was 16.4%. Results reflect a LIFO charge of $11 million, or 31 basis points, and the repurchase of approximately 9.1 million shares of common stock.
"Our business model is producing industry-leading sales per gross square foot, healthy returns on invested capital and strong operating cash flow," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "We are seeing signs of stability in our sales trends and believe our strategic initiatives will help generate further momentum and produce increasing returns on invested capital over the long term."
During the quarter, the Company produced $240 million in cash flow from operations and invested $204 million in capital expenditures, resulting in free cash flow of $36 million. In addition, the Company returned $44 million in quarterly dividends to shareholders and repurchased $361 million of common stock. The Company ended the quarter with total cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, and investments of approximately $1.1 billion.