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Whole Foods Posts Impressive 4Q Gains

Austin, Texas - Whole Foods Market Inc. reported a 27 percent rise in quarterly profit in its fourth-quarter ended Sept. 26, while on the sales side, the retailer produced a 24 percent increase, 1.2 percent ahead of expectations.

Same-store sales performance for the period was up 26 percent from a year earlier, with return on investment of 16 percent. The chain's 67 stores open at least eight years had same-store sales gains of 12 percent, but showed a 54 percent return on investment.

Whole Foods also said capital expenditures would range from $300 million to $320 million in 2005.

The company also said its board approved a 27 percent increase in its quarterly dividend to 19 cents per share and pegged a long-term growth goal of $10 billion in sales by the year 2010. With an aggressive store expansion strategy (15 to 18 stores to be added in fiscal 2005) and a solid in-store concept, Whole Foods told investors it expects sales growth of 15 to 20 percent and same-store sales growth of 8 to ten percent in fiscal 2005.

Shares of Whole Foods jumped Thursday after the specialty grocer affirmed its projection of double-digit sales growth and announced a dividend increase.

Whole Foods operates 164 natural and organic food stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The company is presently building a new flagship location in its Austin, Texas, hometown that may be the first to include clothes made with materials like organic cotton.
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