Austin, Texas Whole Foods Market said Wednesday that it earned $28.7 million in the fourth quarter, up from $1.5 million In the year-ago period. Stringent cost-control measures, effective inventory management, improved store-level performance and increase in lower-priced brands drove earnings growth.
Revenue grew 2.3% to $1.8 billion. Same-store sales decreased 0.9%. But after five quarters of year-over-year declines, the company has seen that key figure jump 1.6% in the first five weeks of the current quarter.
“We believe our sales have stabilized and officially turned the corner. Our comparable store and identical store sales trends improved for the second quarter in a row and, after five quarters of year-over-year declines, so far in the first quarter are up 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively," said John Mackey, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Whole Foods Market.
Mackey noted that Whole Foods’ total cash increased $470 million to $501 million, and total debt decreased $190 million to $739 million.
“From where we stand today, we believe we are well positioned to meet our long-term debt maturities in 2012,” he said.
The company said it expects sales growth to continue in its new fiscal year, with increases of between 5% and 8% in overall sales and between 1% and 4% in sales at stores open at least a year.