Whole Foods Market ( WFMI) dropped 9% after the organic-foods chain posted soft sales growth for the third quarter.

The Austin, Texas, company made $53.9 million, or 37 cents a share, for the quarter ended July 2, up from the year-ago $40.4 million, or 29 cents a share. Sales rose 18% from a year ago to $1.34 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 34-cent profit on sales of $1.36 billion.

Whole Foods said the latest quarter showed 14% weighted average square-footage growth and 9.9% comparable store sales growth. Sales in identical stores, excluding two relocated stores and one major expansion, increased 9.6%.

"We are very pleased to report 9.9% comparable store sales growth for the quarter given our tough 15.2% comparison in the prior year. This translates to a 25.1% two-year comp in the third quarter, the highest we have produced this year," said John Mackey, chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Whole Foods Market. "We continue to expect comparable store sales growth for the full year of 10% to 12%, which will mark our third year of double-digit comp sales growth."

Whole Foods said an anticipated acceleration in leases tendered and square footage opening in 2007 is expected to result in materially higher preopening and relocation expense year over year. That in turn is expected to hit diluted earnings per share growth.

Longer term, Whole Foods said its goal is to reach $12 billion in sales in 2010.

Shares fell $5.99 late Monday to $52.47.