For the 16-week first quarter ended January 19, Whole Foods Market, Inc. posted net income of $158 million and diluted earnings per share of 42 cents versus net income of $146 million and diluted earnings per share of 39 cents in the prior-year period. Comparable store sales increased 5.4%, the company announced.
In the quarter, total sales gained 10% to a record $4.2 billion, according to Whole Foods. Operating income was $255 million versus $235 million in the year-earlier period, it noted.
Earnings per share missed Zacks Consensus Estimate of financial analysts by two cents. Management, in a conference call, and observes noted that competition in the natural and organic food sector, which generates much of Whole Foods revenue, is becoming more intense.
Whole Foods opened 10 stores in the first quarter, the company stated, and has opened two stores so far in the second quarter, expanding into five new markets. It expects to open in the second quarter, with another 20 to 25 stores expected in the second half of the year. Whole Foods currently operates 373 stores and maintained that it could grow to 1,200 units in the United States over the long term.
The company added that it has recently signed 21 new leases and will develop new stores in Huntsville, AL, Vancouver, Canada, Brea, CA, San Diego, Winter Park, FL, Kennesaw, GA, Schererville, IN, Lexington, KY, Charlotte, NC, Wall, NJ, New York City, NY, Frisco, TX, Tacoma, WA, and Wauwatosa, WI. The leases also include seven Chicago- area locations that formerly operated as Dominick’s stores in Edgewater, Elmhurst, Evanston, Lincoln Park, Streeterville, West Loop and Willowbrook, IL.