Whole Foods, Viacom: S&P Gainers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Whole Foods Market ( WFM) and Viacom ( VIAB) were among the best performers in the S&P 500 on Thursday.

The S&P 500 lost 10.74 points, or 0.77%, Thursday to 1,391.57.

Shares of Whole Foods rose 7.57% Thursday to $90.69. After Wednesday's closing bell, the Austin, Texas-based natural and organic foods supermarket operator reported second-quarter earnings of $117.7 million, or 64 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $89.9 million, or 51 cents.

Whole Foods also raised its fiscal 2012 outlook forecasting sales growth of 14.8-to-15.6%, up from a previous guidance for growth of 13.5-to-15%. Earnings per share guidance was boosted to $2.44 to $2.47 a share from prior view for a profit of $2.28 to $2.32 a share.

Shares of Whole Foods hit a 52-week high Thursday of $91.06. The stocks 52-week low of $53.32 was set on Aug. 9.

The stock trades at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 32.59X; the average for food retailers and wholesalers is 15.01X. For comparison, Sysco ( SYY) has a lower forward P/E of 13.83X.

Fourteen of the 35 analysts who cover Whole Foods rate it at buy. Ten analysts give the stock a hold rating and one rates it at sell.

The stock has risen 30.34% year to date.

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Viacom shares rose 3.35% to $49.02. The media company reported second-quarter earnings of $535 million, or 98 cents a share, up from year-earlier earnings of $430 million, or 72 cents a share.

Analysts expected a profit of 89 cents a share on revenue of $3.32 billion in the quarter.

Viacom shares trade at a forward P/E is 9.79X; the average for broadcasting and entertainment companies is 34.69X. For comparison, News Corp. ( NWSA) has a higher forward P/E of 11.66X.

Twenty-four of the 35 analysts who cover Viacom rate it at buy; 11 analysts give the stock a hold rating.

The stock has risen 7.95% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

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