Upscale grocer Whole Foods Market Inc posted higher profit as sales stabilized and officially turned the corner but shares fell 8.7 percent after its fiscal 2010 profit outlook missed analysts' views.
The Austin, Texas-based seller of local fare and pricey gourmet items said on Wednesday that net income available to shareholders was $28.7 million, or 20 cents per share, for the fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept 27. That compared with net income of $1.5 million, or 1 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.
Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 18 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Sales rose 2.3 percent to $1.83 billion, a touch lighter than analysts' call for sales of $1.84 billion.
Whole Foods forecast 2010 sales growth of 5 percent to 8 percent and same-store sales growth of 1 percent to 4 percent. Earnings are expected to be $1.05 to $1.10 per share for 2010, below analysts' call for a per share profit of $1.11.
Whole Foods shares fell to $29.26 from their closing price of $32.06 on the Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by Carol Bishopric)