Whole Food Q4 profit jumps nearly 50%

Austin, Texas -- Whole Foods Market Inc. said Wednesday that its fiscal fourth-quarter profit increased nearly 50% on strong sales. The grocer’s company's net income rose to $112.7 million for the period ended Sept. 30, up from $75.5 million a year ago.

Revenue rose nearly 24% to $2.91 billion, with an extra week in the most recent quarter. Same-store sales were up nearly 9%.

“We ended the year with strong sales growth and record fourth quarter results, delivering the best year in our company's 32-year history,” said John Mackey, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market. "The pace of new store openings and lease signings continues to increase, and our accelerated growth plans are on track. We expect healthy comparable store sales growth and continuing operating margin improvement in fiscal year 2013."

Whole Foods said that Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted sales for the first five weeks of the first quarter, particularly in the Northeast region. The company said it is working with its insurer to assess the damages, a process that could take several months. It expects to record a one-time charge in the first quarter for estimated uninsured losses.

Whole Foods earned $465.6 million for its 53-week fiscal year, compared with $342.6 million for its 2011 fiscal year. Annual revenue increased to $11.7 billion from $10.1 billion.

The company recently signed 11 new leases averaging 37,500 sq. ft. in size in Altamonte Springs, Fla.; Clearwater, Fla.; Hyannis, Mass.; North Carolina; Morristown, N.J.; New York City (two stores); Philadelphia; South Hills, Pa.; Dallas, and Seattle. These stores currently are scheduled to open in fiscal year 2014 and beyond.

In addition, Whole Foods recently announced plans to purchase six leases from Johnnie's Foodmaster, expanding its presence in the Greater Boston area to 26 stores. Johnnie's Foodmaster will close the stores prior to the November 30 transaction closing date. Whole Foods plans to remodel and reopen the locations under their own banner before the end of September 2013.