You can say one thing for sure about the management at Wild Oats Markets (NASDAQ:OATS): It has guts. It takes a lot of "intestinal fortitude," as our nutty old gym teacher used to call it, to chase after a leader like the grand poobah of granola, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI). It takes even more to issue an earnings warning in the current market climate.

But that's exactly what happened at Wild Oats today, with the result that the Street took an organic hickory stick to the stock, whipping it for more than 10% in early trading. Margins went south. Why? Too many sales. Comps are expected to remain weak for the next quarter at negative 4% to 5%, with the never-tiresome excuse of the California grocery strike. Follow this reasoning: The prior-year quarter's 8.5% increase -- hardly earth-shattering -- will make this year's sales look worse.

Come on folks! I think you've used up all your coupons there. Let's hear something a bit more original next time, shall we? Meteor strike, Bigfoot sightings spooking patrons, customers running to traditional stores like Kroger (NYSE:KR) and Albertsons (NYSE:ABS)... anything but the strike.

History buffs might want to look back at last year's less-than-stellar third quarter, in which comps grew less than 1%, down from 5% the year before. Last year's excuse was supply-chain management leading to "out of stock" situations that sent customers away. Right. As you read through subsequent filings, you begin to get the impression that there's little more here than a couple years' worth of excuses.

The bottom line is that Wild Oats now expects a loss for Q3 in the neighborhood of $0.21 per share, with the full year's red ink expected to be around $0.15 per share. Too bad the Street -- and, just maybe, investors -- were expecting a profit.

This isn't the first time Wild Oats has disappointed shareholders lately. Last quarter was a debacle, too. Kind of makes the problems at Whole Foods look pretty tasty in comparison. Here's a healthy tip for your all-natural diet. Make your portfolio Wild-Oats free.

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Seth Jayson shops at Whole Foods. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.