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    Whole Foods Sees Profits up 37 Percent on 21 Percent Sales Rise

    AUSTIN, Texas - Leading organic and natural foods retailer Whole Foods Market Inc. on Wednesday said quarterly earnings rose by a strong 37 percent, boosted by store openings and expansions and lower interest expense.

    AUSTIN, Texas - Leading organic and natural foods retailer Whole Foods Market Inc. on Wednesday said quarterly earnings rose by a strong 37 percent, boosted by store openings and expansions and lower interest expense.

    The Austin, Texas-based retailer said net income in the fiscal third quarter ended July 7 rose to $22.1 million, or 36 cents a share, from $16.1 million, or 29 cents, year-ago period.

    Third-quarter sales increased 21 percent to $648.8 million, driven by a 17 percent increase in square footage.

    Sales from stores open at least a year -- or same-store sales -- rose 10.5 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

    Capital expenditures totaled $35 million for the quarter of which $25 million was spent on new stores.

    Whole Foods, which operates 133 stores in the U.S. and Canada, said it has signed leases for new stores in Sacramento, Calif., Alexandria, Va., and Hingham, Mass., and currently has 22 stores in development, including one 31,000-square-foot store expansion. Stores in development average 38,000 square feet in size.

    "We believe we are well positioned in these uncertain times," said John Mackey, chairman, CEO and president of Whole Foods Market. "Not only have we shown consistent sales growth of over 20 percent for the past 11 quarters, but we are producing significant cash flow resulting in our balance sheet being stronger today than it has ever been."

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