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Whole Foods Earnings Surprises Wall Street

Tickers in this article: WFM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Whole Foods Market surged in after-market trading after the specialty supermarket surprised Wall Street by beating analysts' quarterly earnings estimates. It also announced a two-for-one stock split.

The Austin, Texas-based company said that for its fiscal second quarter, which ended on April 14, sales rose 13.3% to $3.03 billion, meeting analysts' expectations.

The supermarket reported to the upside with regard to its bottom line. Whole Foods reported quarterly net income of $142 million, or 76 cents a diluted share. Earnings per share rose 19% compared to the prior year's quarter.

Analysts on average, according to Thomson Reuters , were expecting the specialty supermarket retailer to post earnings per share of 73 cents.

Whole Foods shares ended the day up 1.1% to $92.80. Shares surged in after-hours trading, up 7.5% to $99.75.

The company's comparable store sales rose 6.9%, it said.

Whole Foods also announced a two-for-one stock split of outstanding common stock to be issued through a stock dividend. Whole Foods shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 17, 2013 will be entitled to the dividend on May 29, 2013 of one additional share of common stock for each share of common stock they own.

The stock split will increase the total number of shares of common stock outstanding from approximately 185 million to 370 million, out of the 600 million shares of common stock currently authorized, based on the total number of shares of common stock outstanding as of April 14.

"The demand for fresh, healthy foods continues to grow, and we are leading the way as America's healthiest grocery store with close to seven million customers visiting our stores each week," John Mackey, Whole Foods' co-founder and co-CEO said in a statement. "We believe we will continue to gain market share as we accelerate our new store openings, improve our relative value proposition while maintaining our high quality standards, and further differentiate our shopping experience."

Whole Foods narrowed its guidance for comparable and identical store sales growth for the fiscal year and raised full-year EPS guidance to a range to $2.86 to $2.89. The company now expects sales growth between 12% and 14% and diluted earnings per share growth between 15% and 17%.

The company also expects a "significant year-over-over increase in pre-opening and relocation expense" in the fourth quarter based on the opening of 12 new stores along with a high number of openings in the first quarter of 2014.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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