FINANCE

Whole Foods Income Off Sharply

BY CSA STAFF

Austin Whole Foods Market said Tuesday that its third-quarter net income dropped more than 30% largely due to costs associated with its acquisition of Wild Oats and a tough economy that hurt consumer spending.

The company earned $33.9 million for the three months ending July 6, down from $49.1 million in the same quarter last year. It estimates that the purchase of Wild Oats was responsible for a $4.9 million impact on the net income.

“Today’s economic environment is the most challenging I have experienced in my 30 years in retail,” said Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.

Whole Foods reported revenue of $1.84 billion for the quarter, up from $1.51 billion in the previous year.

The company lowered its outlook for 2009, saying it now expects sales growth of 6% to 10% for the year—rather than the previously stated 25% to 30% growth. It also said its same-store sales are expected to grow 1% to 5%, down from the previously anticipated growth of 7.5% to 9.5%.

The company said it is making several cost-cutting steps, including reducing the number of stores it plans to open in 2009 and suspending its quarterly dividend for the foreseeable future.

Executives remained positive about long-term possibilities, saying the acquisition of Wild Oats Market Inc. and strategic investments should pay off.

“We remain very bullish on our growth prospects as the market for natural and organic products continues to grow and our company continues to evolve,” Mackey said.

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Smart Balance names marketing vp

BY CSA STAFF

PARAMUS, N.J. Smart Balance announced that Richard McWilliams has been named to the position of vp and general manager, core brands, reporting to Gregory Venner, evp and chief consumer officer. McWilliams will be responsible for leading the marketing efforts for the company’s core brands.

Before joining Smart Balance, McWilliams served as chief marketing officer for Trex Company, the country’s leading manufacturer of composite decking.

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RealNetworks names new board member

BY CSA STAFF

SEATTLE Digital entertainment services company RealNetworks announced that Pradeep Jotwani has been appointed to the company’s board of directors.

“Pradeep is a great addition to our board,” said Rob Glaser, chairman and ceo of RealNetworks. “He brings a rare combination of breadth and depth that will serve RealNetworks well. I’m looking forward to working closely with Pradeep as we continue in our mission to enable consumers to enjoy digital entertainment whenever and wherever they are.”

Jotwani served as a senior executive at Hewlett-Packard for 17 years from 1990 to 2007. Most recently he was the senior vp and general manager responsible for the $16 billion printing supplies business. Prior to that, he founded and served as president for HP’s $15 billion consumer business.

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