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Whole Foods Falls After Cutting Full-Year Sales Forecast

Whole Foods Market Inc., the largest natural-foods store chain in the U.S., fell the most in more than three years after yesterday lowering its sales forecast for fiscal 2013.

The shares slid 9.7 percent to $87.50 at the close in New York for the biggest drop since Nov. 5, 2009. Whole Foods has advanced 8 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 13 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.

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