Whole Foods not starving for sales, earnings

AUSTIN, Texas — While food discounters may be thriving in this down economy, things aren't so bad at the other end of the spectrum. Whole Foods Market reported that sales for its first quarter ended Jan. 15 increased 13% to $3.4 billion, and comparable-store sales increased 8.7%. Identical-store sales, excluding six relocations and two expansions, increased 8.2%, or 17.3% on a two-year stacked basis.The company also posted a whopping 33% increase in net income to $118.3 million. Diluted earnings per share increased 28% to 65 cents. 

"We continue to execute at a high level, delivering a great shopping experience for our customers while delivering great returns to our shareholders," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. "This quarter we produced a 28% increase in earnings on a 13% increase in sales. We are pleased with our sales momentum and are confident we will continue to leverage our sales to the bottom line as reflected in our increased operating margin and earnings outlook for the year."

Whole Foods opened six stores in the first quarter and expects to open three stores in the second quarter. The company currently has 317 stores totaling approximately 12.1 million sq. ft.

For fiscal 2012, Whole Foods expects sales to increase between 13.5% and 15%, and comparable-store sales to increase between 7.3% and 8.8%. Identical-store sales are expected to increase between 7% and 8.5%.

For the full year, the company is expecting earnings per diluted share $2.28 to $2.32.