Whole Foods profit surges 54%, will open 15 stores in 2011

Austin, Texas Whole Foods Market exceeded analysts’ expectations on Wednesday and reported a whopping 54% increase in profit. The natural and organic grocer raised its full-year outlook, and said it will open 15 stores in 2011 while maintaining its cash flow.

Whole Foods said net income rose 58% to $57.5 million. Sales rose 15% to $2.1 billion. Same-store sales grew 8.7%, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of positive growth.

Whole Foods attributed its sales growth to more competitive pricing and efforts during the quarter to appeal to its core customers' concerns about healthy eating, animal welfare and sustainable seafood.

The company's profitability also benefited from lower costs.

"We are continuing to gain market share at a much faster rate than most public food retailers, and attribute a lot of our success to the progress we have made in our relative pricing position to continue to raise the bar in areas that matter to our customers," said co-CEO John Mackey.

Looking ahead, Whole Foods plans to open 20 stores in 2012, and 14 in 2013.

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