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Shares of Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) jumped more than 11% early Thursday after the organic grocer announced better than expected fiscal fourth-quarter results.
Why it's happening
Quarterly revenue climbed 9% year over year to $3.26 billion, which translated to net income of $128 million, or $0.35 per share. Returns on invested capital came in at 14%, while EBITDA was $296 million, or 9.1% of sales. Analysts, on average, were looking for earnings of just $0.32 per share on revenue of $3.25 billion.
For perspective, Whole Foods' revenue increase was helped by a combination of a 3.1% comparable store sales growth, and 38 new stores opened over the past year. The latter number includes a company-record 13 stores opened in seven new markets during Q4 alone, bringing Whole Foods' total to 401 locations spanning approximately 15 million square feet. Whole Foods also stated it expects to cross the 500-store mark by fiscal 2017 -- still far short of its long-term goal of operating 1,200 U.S. locations.
Finally, for fiscal 2015, Whole Foods is targeting sales growth of "over 9%," with comparable store sales growth in the low- the mid-single digits. Based on Whole Foods' fiscal 2014 sales of $14.2 billion, that puts its fiscal 2015 target at "over" $15.48 billion, compared to analysts' expectations for sales to grow around 11.7% to $15.86 billion. Whole Foods also aims to increase total square footage by 9% to 10% by opening another 38 to 42 new stores in fiscal 2015, and is targeting EBITDA of $1.3 billion with returns on invested capital greater than 14%.
Whole Foods co-CEO John Mackey summed it up well: "The last few months have been an incredibly exciting and rewarding time for our company as we opened a record number of new stores and launched several strategic initiatives, expanding choices for our customers and reinforcing our values as America's Healthiest Grocery Store. Collectively, our efforts have led to extremely high team member morale, heightened brand visibility and positive sales momentum."
John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Steve Symington owns shares of Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.