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Whole Foods Q2 Profit Jumps 31 Percent

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AUSTIN (AP) - Whole Foods Market Inc.’s second-quarter profit jumped nearly 31 percent on stronger sales at its chain of natural and organic grocery stores. The company raised its full-year outlook on the results and its shares jumped in after-hours trading Wednesday.

The company, based in Austin, Texas, is an industry standout. It was hard-hit by the recession but quickly retooled by cutting debt, closing stores, increasing its emphasis on lower-priced options and returning its focus to healthful food. Those moves continue to pay off for the chain.

Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey said Wednesday that this was the best quarter in the company’s 32-year history.

The grocer earned $117.7 million, or 64 cents per share, for the quarter that ended April 8. That’s up from $89.9 million, or 51 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

That beat analyst expectations of earning 59 cents per share for the quarter, according to data from FactSet.

Whole Foods said revenue rose nearly 14 percent to $2.67 billion, meeting market expectations. The company got a revenue boost from the Easter holiday shifting from the third quarter last year into the second quarter this year.

Whole Foods said revenue at its stores open at least a year rose 9.5 percent. This is considered a key measurement of operating performance because it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed stores.

The company opened three stores during the quarter. It now operates 324 stores in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom.

“Our exceptional results in the first half of the year have given us the confidence to significantly raise our guidance for the full year. We are confident that our sales momentum and operating disciplines will create continued positive results for our shareholders,” Walter Robb, co-CEO said in a statement.

Whole Foods now expects to earn $2.44 to $2.47 per share for the full year on added stores and continued sales gains. That’s up from its prior expectations of $2.28 to $2.32 per share for the year. The new earnings guidance beats the $2.34 per share that analysts previously expected.

Shares of Whole Foods jumped $2.29, nearly 3 percent, to $86.60 in after-hours trading. The company’s shares have been steadily gaining since late 2008 when they were trading near $8.19. Its shares closed regular trading up 20 cents at $84.31 Wednesday.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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