Whole Foods (WFMI) on Wednesday increased its first-quarter profits, aided by a 10.5% jump in same-stores sales.
Whole Foods earned $25.6 million, or 42 cents per share, on $923.8 million in sales during its fiscal first quarter, which ended Jan. 19. During the same quarter a year ago, Whole Foods earned $20.1 million, or 34 cents per share, on $780.8 million in sales.
Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call expected Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods to earn 40 cents per share on $923.6 million in revenue.
The natural food grocery chain opened five new stores during the quarter, expanding its store base to 140. Compared with the same period a year earlier, Whole Foods has expanded its square footage of store space by 11%.
The same-store sales growth, which compares results at outlets open for more than one year, represents an acceleration from last year. During the first quarter of last year, Whole Foods' same-store sales grew by 9.4%.
Excluding three stores that have been relocated or expanded, Whole Foods' identical-store sales grew by 10.1% in the quarter, compared with 7.5% in the same period last year.
The company's bottom line results also were helped by controlling costs. In the just-completed quarter, Whole Foods posted a gross profit margin of 34.1%; in the year-ago period, its gross margin stood at 33.9%. Compared with the year- ago quarter, general and administrative costs decreased from 3.6% of sales to 3.4%.
In the second quarter, the grocery chain expects its comparable-store sales to grow 8% to 9%. For the rest of the year, Whole Foods expects same-store sales to grow between 6.5% to 8.5%.
For its fiscal year, Whole Foods reiterated that it expects to earn $1.62 to $1.69 per share on sales that grow 15% to 20% overall.