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Investor Burkle Reveals 9.2% Stake in Wild Oats

BOULDER, Colo. -- Ronald Burkle reported a 9.2% stake in Wild Oats Markets Inc., according to an original Schedule 13D filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Burkle beneficially owns 2.62 million shares of Wild Oats common stock, the filing said. Burkle said in the filing that he acquired the shares in open-market transactions made since Feb. 25 because he believes the shares are undervalued.

Burkle said the company should have "substantial opportunities" for future growth because recent developments in the supermarket and general retail sectors are likely to create attractive opportunities for the company to acquire new stores and expand into new markets.

Shares of the natural foods supermarkets operator shot up last week after Prudential Equity Group upgraded the company's stock to "overweight" from "neutral" and raised its share price target to $12 from $7, citing improving long-term growth prospects for the company.

Shares of Wild Oats closed Wednesday at $9.27 each, up 3.7 percent.
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