Company Produces Record Sales of $4.2 Billion and Diluted Earnings per Share of $0.42; Opens 10 New Stores and Signs 21 New Leases, Increasing the Development Pipeline to a Record 107 Leases; Updates Outlook for Fiscal Year 2014 AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 12, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq:WFM) today reported results for the 16-week first quarter ended January 19, 2014. For the quarter, total sales increased 10% to a record $4.2 billion, and comparable store sales increased 5.4% on top of a 7.2% increase in the prior year. The spread between comparable store and identical store sales growth for the quarter, excluding six relocations and one expansion, was approximately 60 basis points. Average weekly sales were $719,000, translating to sales per gross square foot of $983. Operating income was $255 million, or 6.0% of sales, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") were $366 million, or 8.6% of sales. Net income was $158 million, or 3.7% of sales, and diluted earnings per share increased 7% to $0.42. Return on invested capital increased 26 basis points to 13.3%. During the quarter, the Company produced $337 million in cash flow from operations and invested $219 million in capital expenditures, of which $122 million related to new stores. This resulted in free cash flow of $118 million. In addition, the Company paid $37 million in quarterly dividends to shareholders and repurchased $62 million of common stock, leaving $738 million in remaining share repurchase authority. The Company ended the quarter with total cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, and investments of approximately $1.5 billion. "With unparalleled quality standards, we are the leading retailer of fresh, healthy, natural and organic foods. We are very confident in our future growth potential and are moving aggressively to take advantage of that opportunity," said Walter Robb, co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market. "With a base of 373 stores today and a record 107 stores in our development pipeline, we expect to cross the 500-store mark in 2017. Over the longer term, we see demand for 1,200 Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S. alone."