Whole Foods Market’s profits rose 21 percent in the company’s fiscal second quarter and the company raised its earnings forecast for the year, officials with the Austin-based natural foods grocer reported Tuesday.
Whole Foods reported a profit of $142 million and net income of 76 cents per share — up from from $118 million, or 64 cents per share, last year. Sales rose 13 percent to $3.03 billion, according to the company. The results beat predictions of analysts, who expected earnings of 73 cents a share on $3.03 billion in revenue, according to an estimate from Thomson Reuters.
Whole Foods officials said same-store sales, a key indicator of growth, were up 6.9 percent.
“The demand for fresh, healthy foods continues to grow, and we see tremendous new store opportunities in all types of markets, from urban to suburban as well as new and existing,” said John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods.
The company raised its forecast for full-year earnings to a range of $2.86 to $2.89 per share, compared with earlier guidance of from $2.83 to $2.87.
Whole Foods stock jumped on the news, climbing more than 8 percent in after-hours trading to $100.60 per share.
The company opened six new stores in its fiscal second quarter. It has opened one store already in the current fiscal third quarter and expects to open three more. Whole Foods now stands at 349 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Brian Yarbrough, an analyst for Edward Jones, said the results alleviated some analysts’ concerns about possible weakening of Whole Foods’ same-store sales.
The company also continues to benefit from the overall growth of the natural foods industry, which Yarbrough said has been growing 13 percent to 15 percent a year for several years, excluding the recession.
“We do think this industry can continue to grow in the high single digits, and these guys are the market leaders,” he said.
“There’s just more awareness around health and wellness and they’re the primary beneficiary of that.”
Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb also credited high morale among employees for the good results.
“It’s a little softer than this crowd likes to talk about,” he said on a conference call with analysts. “But it’s a real thing, and if you go into the stores you can feel it …. that creates a good experience for our customers.”