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    Whole Foods Market Sees a Thousand-Store Future

    Strong third quarter numbers are reinforcing its positive expectations

    Whole Foods Market, Inc. saw strong third-quarter results – both in sales and comps – even in the face of a negative impact from Easter shifting from the third quarter last year to the second quarter this year.

    Sales for the quarter increased 14 percent to $2.7 billion, comparable store sales increased 8.2 percent, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased 26 percent from last year to $260.6 million. Net income increased 32 percent to $116.8 million.

    "In an economic environment that is proving to be difficult for many retailers, we are thriving and pleased to report another quarter of strong growth and excellent results for our stakeholders," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods. "Our accelerated growth plans are on track, and we believe we will continue to gain market share through further differentiating our shopping experience, improving our relative value positioning, and reinforcing our position as America's healthiest grocery store."

    Indeed, over the long term, the grocer considers 1,000 stores to be a reasonable indication of its market opportunity in the United States as the Whole Foods brand continues to strengthen, consumer demand for natural and organic products continues to increase, and the company's flexibility on new store size opens up additional market opportunities.

    For the 40-week period ended July 1, 2012, sales increased 13 percent to $8.8 billion. Comparable store sales increased 8.8 percent, EBITDA increased 24 percent to $802.8 million, and net income increased 32 percent to $352.8 million.

    Whole Foods opened a record nine new stores including one relocation, in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, the grocer has opened one store to date and expects to open six additional stores, for a total of 25 new stores opened during the fiscal year. Whole Foods currently has 329 stores totaling approximately 12.5 million square feet. It recently signed 12 new leases averaging 37,700 square feet in size in Palm Desert, CA; Pompano Beach, FL; Park Ridge, IL; Wichita, KS; Boston, MA; Columbia, MD; Kansas City, MO; Lincoln, NE; Parsippany, NJ; Wynnewood, PA; Dallas, TX; and Houston, TX. These stores currently are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2014 and beyond.

    Based on third quarter results and updated assumptions for the fourth quarter, the company is raising its earnings per share outlook for fiscal year 2012 to $2.51 to $2.52, an increase of 30 percent to 31 percent year over year.

    Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods operates 329 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

     

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