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It's the Whole Enchilada at Whole Foods Market

Shares surge on a strong report. CEO John Mackey sees bang-up sales for years.
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Whole Foods

(WFMI)

surged 11% late Thursday after the chichi grocery chain blasted past third-quarter estimates.

For the quarter ended July 3, the Austin, Texas-based seller of organic groceries earned $42 million, or 60 cents a share, up from the year-ago $32 million, or 48 cents a share. Sales surged to $1.13 billion from $917 million a year earlier. Analysts had expected 57 cents on $1.1 billion.

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"We are producing impressive sales and earnings results even as we compare against one of the best years in our company's history," said CEO John Mackey. "Our comparable stores have produced a sales increase of 12.6% year to date on top of a 15.2% increase last year, our new stores continue to perform above our expectations, producing a record $618,000 in average weekly sales during the quarter, and our net income has increased 27% year to date on top of a 34% increase last year."

The company also guided to 2005 sales and same-store sales growth "slightly above" its previous projections, which called for 15%-20% top-line growth and 9%-11% comp growth. The company said earnings will continue to grow more slowly than sales.

Mackey also said, "We believe our goal of $10 billion in sales by the year 2010 is well within our reach."

Shares of Whole Foods, which have risen more than 80% off last summer's 52-week low, surged $13.84 to $136.16.