Whole Foods Market Inc on Wednesday reported better-than-expected quarterly profit, despite decelerating sales at established stores, and its shares rose more than 3 percent.
The nation’s biggest natural and organic grocery chain’s challenge has been to protect profits while lowering prices to shake its “Whole Paycheck” reputation for lofty prices and to compete better with rivals like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Kroger Co.
Fiscal second quarter net income of $142 million, or 44 cents per share, beat analysts’ average estimate of 41 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Same-store sales for the quarter ended April 10 slipped 3 percent from a year earlier, more than the 2 percent decline analysts’ expected.
Same-store sales have weakened for three straight quarters. They fell 1.8 percent in the first quarter and slipped 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal last year.
Shares of Whole Foods rose 3.5 percent to $29.50 in after-hours trading, but significantly off their all-time high of just above $63 in October 2013.