Whole Foods Falls After Cutting Full-Year Sales Forecast

Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest natural-foods store in the U.S., fell as much as 8.2 percent in late trading yesterday after lowering its sales forecast for fiscal 2013.

The shares slid 6.6 percent to $90.51 at 4:18 p.m. in New York and earlier plunged as low as $89. Whole Foods had gained 20 percent in the 12 months through the close of regular trading yesterday, compared with a 12 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Sales may increase as much as 11 percent in fiscal 2013, compared with a previous estimate for growth of as much as 12 percent, the Austin, Texas-based company said yesterday in a statement. That implies sales of about $13 billion. Analysts estimated $13.1 billion, the average of 24 projections compiled by Bloomberg.

Supermarkets are fighting for market share as American grocery-store sales stagnate and some consumers receive smaller paychecks. Industry revenue was forecast to increase 0.4 percent to about $491 billion in 2012, according to a June report from researcher IBISWorld Inc. Whole Foods, which has about 345 stores, has sought to appeal to customers with its antibiotic- free meat and organic produce.

The grocer reiterated its profit forecast of as much as $2.87 a share for the fiscal year ending in September. Analysts estimate $2.90, on average.

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello at rajello@bloomberg.net

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