KeyBanc Upgrades Whole Foods

Analyst Charles Cerankosky says the natural foods retailer has continued to grow profitably and has consistently beat expectations

KeyBanc upgrades Whole Foods Market (WFMI ) to hold from underweight.

Analyst Charles Cerankosky says results were well above his 65 cents estimate. He says a total sales rise of 22.4% was above sales growth of 21% in fourth-quarter 2004.

He notes Whole Foods now has 58 stores in its development pipeline and expects to open 15 to 18 new stores in fiscal 2005, four of which will be locations.

Cerankosky believes Whole Foods has demonstrated an ability to consistently beat expectations and management continues to grow the company profitably. He raises his fiscal 2005 (ending September) earnings per share estimate to $2.43.

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