Whole Foods shares dip on lower than expected same-store sales

July 30, 2014, 10:14 PM UTC

The numbers: Whole Foods Market’s profits rose 6.3% to $151 million, or 41 cents per share, in the quarter ending July 6. Sales grew 10% to a record $3.4 billion. The upscale grocer beat analysts’ projections of 39 cents per share in profits. However, the chain also reported that its same-store sales increased just 3.9%, a whole percentage point below analysts’ estimates and less than the 4.5% increase it reported last quarter, which also fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The takeaway: Same-store sales are a significant indicator of retail performance, and Whole Foods’s [fortune-stocky symbol=”WFM”] shares dropped roughly 20% in May when the company reported those less than stellar second-quarter numbers. News of another quarter with lackluster same-store sales is already taking its toll on the company’s share price, which dropped as much as 5% in after-hours trading after closing Wednesday up 3.8%. Whole Foods shares have lost nearly 34% of their value since the beginning of the year.

Not helping the company is the fact that it also cut its sales and earnings forecast yet again. Whole Foods now expects full-year sales growth between 9.6% and 9.9% after previously pegging it as high as 11%, while its same-store sales estimates have dropped about one percentage point to between 4.1% and 4.4%. The company’s earnings per share estimate for the year is also down slightly.

What’s interesting: Addressing the company’s growth, Whole Foods noted in a release that it entered eight new markets in the quarter, and the company expects to open a total of 13 stores in the current quarter for a total of nearly 400 stores. A Fortune cover story earlier this year about the chain’s rapid expansion noted the company eventually plans to have 1,200 stores in the U.S. Whole Foods thinks it can reach 500 stores by 2017 in an effort to help the company maintain its lead in the market for natural and organic foods. Competition is fierce from a variety of retailers like Trader Joe’s and even Wal-Mart, which has been adding to its selection of organic products. Earlier this year, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb told Fortune’s Beth Kowitt that his company had a number of strategies to fend off its rivals, including offering more competitive pricing as well as investing in technology to offer services like food delivery and online orders.

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